Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Russia makes first defense purchase from Israel

Hebrew daily “Yediot Ahronot” reports that Russia has made its first defense procurement from Israel. Aeronautics Defense Systems has signed a contract to sell unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Russia's Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies, & Natural Disasters.

Yavne-based Aeronautics Defense Systems signed the contract with Russian company Irkut (RTS; MICEX:IRKT), the manufacturer of the advanced fighter-bomber Sukhoi Su-30 and other aerospace products. The contract is reportedly worth several million dollars. Aeronautics Defense Systems VP marketing Idan Shimon confirmed the report.

Russia bought the company's Aerostar UAV, which has also been sold to Angola, Ivory Coast and other African countries. Aerostar is used to defend oil installations and other facilities.

Aeronautics Defense Systems recently achieved another milestone, signing a cooperation agreement for UAVs with General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE:GD). The agreement has already led to one contract: the US Navy has bought several of Aeronautics Defense Systems' products. The Aerostar is manufactured in the US, which Shimon says enables the IDF to use US military aid to buy the system.

In order to expand its share of the UAV market, Aeronautics Defense Systems bought most of the shares of Italian UAV engine-maker Zanzottera Technologies early this year. Zanzottera is now developing more powerful engines for Aeronautics Defense Systems larger UAVs now under development.