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Leasing unmanned aircraft systems (UAVs) has become a more popular option, not only by commercial companies but also by military users that seek to obviate cumbersome acquisition processes. Moreover, this way they wish to cope with the accelerated pace of the technology. UAVs that are purchased become outdated in a short period of time.
For example, the Germans are planning to lease Israeli UAVs after the approval by their parliament. After long months, the German parliament is about to approve the lease of Israeli-made UAVs for the use of the German army.
Heron TP UAV manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was selected by the German Ministry of Defense two years ago for long endurance intelligence-gathering missions. This until a Euro-Drone is developed in partnership with France, Italy, and Spain.
As reported by Flight, the German high court last year rejected the General Atomics appeal that was filed after Germany had selected the Israeli-made UAV. General Atomics offered its MQ-9 Reaper. A lower court has rejected the American company’s appeal and the case was brought before a higher court.
General Atomics appeal was based on the claim that the selection was made without competition and that the Heron TP was not in NATO’s inventory. According to the Germans, the Heron TP is required for the protection and support of the German Bundeswehr in deployed operations and will fill the gap between the currently used Heron 1 system and the future European MALE UAV. Now that the new coalition government in Germany is set, the final vote for leasing the UAV from IAI is expected soon.
Another example for UAV leasing, JetLease – a provider of private, commercial, and military aircraft – is discussing lease deals with potential military and civilian clients in Asia, Australia, Canada, and the Middle East. The company Vice-President Katy Glynn told janes.com she sees a growing appetite for leased unmanned platforms. Users may start leasing a smaller platform to test the capability, then realize the opportunities and soon want a larger system, she noted. “We’re really a bridge between sticking your toes in the water with the unmanned systems … and the governments and militaries who can acquire the larger UAV,” Glynn said.
In September 2017, JetLease inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UMS Skeldar – a joint venture between Saab and UMS AERO – to lease out UMS Skeldar’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) portfolio, including its flagship V-200 unmanned helicopter. Packages include dry leasing (without crew) and wet leasing (with crew and maintenance) as well as optional payloads such as Sentient Vision Systems’ ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging).
The V-200 is maritime ready. The fact that it is not just an open interface to Battlefield Management System (BMS) and C4ISR systems, but also 4586 STANAG compliant, makes it easier to implement on any maritime vessel. With a double payload capability and uniquely incorporating Heavy Fuel, the V-200 is suitable for maritime and naval UAV operations, according to UMS Skeldar website.