General Atomics lawsuit to delay German Heron drone program

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Germany’s Defence Ministry on Tuesday informed lawmakers that its plan to lease armed Heron TP drones from Israel Aerospace Industries [ISRAI.UL] will be delayed by months given a fresh legal challenge filed by U.S. weapons maker General Atomics.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen in January announced the army would lease the Heron drones for about 580 million euros instead of buying Predator B drones from the privately held U.S. firm or Switzerland’s RUAG, prompting protests by both firms which were denied in May.

“This move by General Atomics is very unfortunate and frustrating, especially since our legal position was upheld by the (cartel office) with very clear words,” a senior ministry acquisition official told lawmakers in a letter seen by Reuters.

The ministry did not disclose General Atomics’ arguments. No comment from General Atomics was immediately available.

It was the latest setback for the minister’s efforts to rebuild the German military after years of declining military budgets and reports of ill-equipped troops.


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