The Russian military use multi-mission tactical remotely piloted aerial systems called the Forpost during exercises in Russia’s western enclave region of Kaliningrad, the Russian defence ministry’s press service said on 21 March.
The Forpost is a Russian version of the IAI Searcher Mk 2 unmanned aerial vehicle that was built under licence by a local company. The Searcher Mk 2 is a multi-mission tactical remotely piloted aerial system (RPAS) used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and damage assessment.
According to the FlightGlobal, in April 2009, Moscow bought its first batch of UAVs from IAI, via a $54 million package including BirdEye 400s and Searcher 2s. Late the same year, it ordered a further 36 aircraft worth $100 million. A third deal, valued at $400 million, was signed in October 2010 with the Israeli company, with UAVs having been assembled in Russia since early 2012 and deliveries to the Russian military starting in 2014.
Russian sources say another deal was signed in late 2015, covering an army order totalling $320 million.
Moscow has made several attempts to buy more advanced UAVs from Israel, but its efforts have been blocked by Washington.