France is in talks with the United States and Israel to buy intelligence-gathering drones to build up a modern fleet, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday.
It would be another stride forward for Israel’s aerospace industry, which sells about $400 million worth of drones annually to 49 nations and regions. Eighty percent of the drones manufactured in Israel are exported, according to Ynet.
Industry sources are saying that unmanned aerial vehicles may replace the IDF’s fighter jets and pilots in coming years.
France’s existing hardware is outdated, and its military intervention in Mali this year has exposed its shortage of surveillance drones suitable for modern warfare. The U.S. provided French commanders with intelligence from its drones based in Niger.
“We need this capacity in the short term. There are currently two countries in the world that build drones, the United States and Israel,” Le Drian said. “We are in discussions with each to buy some straight away.”
Le Monde newspaper reported that France had received approval from the U.S. Pentagon to buy two Reaper drones and that the deal only needed backing from Congress.
Military hardware from Israel also made news in the Pacific on Sunday when the Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korea has deployed Israeli-made precision-guided missiles on Yellow Sea islands bordering North Korea.
“Dozens of Spike missiles and their launchers have recently been deployed on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands,” The Jerusalem Post quoted a South Korean army official saying.
“They can destroy [North Korea’s] underground facilities and can pursue and strike moving targets,” he continued.
The satellite-guided Spike anti-tank missile has a range of 20 kilometers and weighs 70 kilos, Yonhap cited military officials as saying. It was designed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.