The Czech Republic will begin negotiations with Israel to purchase three Heron drones including ground control stations, data terminals, and shipping containers.

The acquisition comes as part of the Czech Army’s “Capability Building Concept,” an initiative to build up the service’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) capabilities for aerial reconnaissance, combat support, and ground unit protection.

The ministry expects contract negotiations to be finalized by the end of this year.

Minister of Defense Jana Černochová explained the Czech and Israeli government are in direct negations with each other. “It will enable us to set up long-term cooperation and ensure the operation, repairs, and supply of spare parts for the supplied military equipment throughout its lifetime,” she added.

Possible Use Outside Czechia

The defense ministry explained that it chose the Heron as a result of recent market consultations concerning which drone would best meet the Czech Army’s requirements. Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron emerged as the favorite.

“The selected system most closely corresponds to the expected use within the army and meets future requirements for full-scale use, both on the territory of the Czech Republic as part of training, and for possible use as part of supporting units in foreign operations,” Colonel Pavel Nakládal said.

The next step is negotiating “with the aim of achieving the lowest possible price” and the shortest possible delivery date, the ministry of defense said.

The Heron UAV

Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Heron is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle “for strategic and tactical missions,” according to the company website.

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The drone features a maximum flight time of up to 45 hours, maximum altitude of 35,000 feet (10.5 kilometers), and a payload capacity of up to 470 kilograms (1,034 pounds).