Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) received a $350 Million Special Mission Aircraft related contract from a major European country, the company reported on June 8th.
Special Mission Aircraft which are designed and developed in IAI are used primarily for collecting strategic intelligence.
“As part of IAI’s strategy, we are bolstering our presence in Europe for leveraging our business and extending cooperation. IAI’s Special Mission Aircraft offer advanced and unique technological capabilities to meet a broad range of most demanding intelligence missions. Europe represents a strategic business region for IAI, and we will continue to broaden our products and services to bring our unique technologies to the benefit of our customer’s evolving operational requirements,” said Gideon Landa, ELTA VP and GM Airborne Systems.
IAI/ELTA offers four lines of Special Mission Aircraft:
- AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning & Control) Aircraft utilizing AESA radar and IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe), SIGINT and Communication systems to generate and disseminate an Air and Maritime Situational Picture. It also contains an Air Battle Management and Strike Aircraft Guidance System. ELTA’s CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft is fitted with a dual band AESA radar providing complete uncompromised 360° azimuthal coverage and is an example of a leading in the class system based on a business jet. IAI has entered into cooperation agreements with Airbus and Embraer to develop and market additional AEW&C aircraft variants.
- AGS (Air to Ground Surveillance) aircraft using advanced AESA SAR/GMTI radar, SIGINT and EO/IR sensors and an Intelligence Management System to cover large areas, providing Real-time detection, identification, tracking and distribution of surface targets from standoff range in all weather and visibility conditions. A leading product in this category is the IAI MARS2 that includes a breakthrough Digital AESA SAR/GMTI radar and latest generation SIGINT integrated with an advanced Multi-INT system, carried by a high performance business jet.
- MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) equipped with high performance AESA radar, SIGINT and EO/IR sensors to create an up-to-date maritime picture during Search And Rescue missions, Maritime policing, Environmental Monitoring, Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) in support of Naval and Coast Guard operations. ELTA’s MPAs are based on business jets and turboprop platforms featuring the world leader combat proven ELM-2022 radar family, serving in many countries on all continents.
- SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) aircraft monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum to detect and accurately locate emitter arrays and communication networks, creating a complete Electromagnetic Order of Battle over the entire large arena of interest. ELTA has developed and provided most advanced SIGINT aircraft to the IDF on business jet platform and supplied airborne SIGINT systems to many Special Mission Aircraft worldwide.
Most of the equipment of these aircraft is developed and produced by IAI itself.
Which country the contract was signed with is not indicated, but it is said that it is a “major European country”.
Typically, this definition means the UK, France, Germany and Italy, possibly also Spain.
Russian Analyst Oleg Granovsky assumes that this relates to Italy – in 2012, it ordered two IAI GWF-CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning & Control System) aircraft based on the Gulfstream G550 from IAI, the planes were transferred to Italy on in late 2016 and early 2018.
The Italian designation for these aircraft is the E-550A.
Both are part of the 71st aviation group of the 14th regiment at the Pratica di Mare airbase near Rome.
Their purchase for approximately $ 50-850 million was part of an inter-purchase of more than $1 billion worth of military products made in Israel after the purchase of 30 M-346 Master (Lavi) training aircraft for the Air Force.
It is possible that Italy decided to buy a third such aircraft, and its lower cost ($350 million compared to $375-425 million for each of the previous two aircraft) is explained by the fact that these aircraft are already in service with Italy, and accordingly there are less expenses for changing the model to specific customer requirements, for training, technical support and other related services. Moreover, in 2019, Israel ordered 7 AW119 Koala helicopters in Italy for $157 million, so the contract can be a mutual purchase for these helicopters.
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