A German court last week upheld the German Defense Ministry’s decision to acquire drones from Israel rather than America, rejecting an appeal by the U.S. company that lost the bid.
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The mammoth deal, whose estimated value is 580 million euros, still needs approval by the German parliament before it can go ahead. Assuming parliament consents, the deal is expected to be implemented next year.
In early 2016, the German Defense Ministry announced that it planned to lease several Heron TP drones from Israel. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen noted at the time that the drones could be armed and said they were meant to protect German soldiers.
But General Atomics, they American company whose Predator B drones lost out to the Israeli Herons, challenged the decision in court, arguing that the bidding process wasn’t fair.
On Wednesday, the Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf rejected General Atomics’ suit. That court was the final arbiter in the case, so the ruling took effect immediately.
The deal is considered unusual because the drones are being leased rather than purchased. Germany plans to lease them until an advanced drone that the European Union is planning to develop is ready for use.
Haaretz has reported in the past that the German drone operators will be trained on simulators at Israeli air force bases.