Russia does not need Israeli assistance to make progress in thedevelopment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including militarydrones, the head of a Russian UAV production company said on Thursday.
A senior Israeli defense source quoted in Flight International saidearlier that Israel may tear up much of the unprecedented militarycooperation deal it signed with Russia at the start of this month dueto anger over Moscow's decision to supply Yakhont naval missiles toSyria.
"In the next two or three years, there will be a breakthrough in theRussian UAV market regardless of the Israeli position on this issue,"Vladimir Verba, the director general of the Vega company.
Verba said his company had developed a comprehensive UAV developmentprogram until 2025, which had been approved by the majority of itscustomers, including the Federal Security Service (FSB) and theInterior Ministry.
He also said Vega had been developing strike and reconnaissancedrones for the Russian military in cooperation with Russia's UnitedAircraft Corporation (UAC).
The Russian military stressed the need to provide the Armed Forceswith advanced reconnaissance systems in the wake of a brief militaryconflict with Georgia in August 2008, when the effectiveness of Russianmilitary operations was severely hampered by the lack of reliableintelligence.
According to various estimates, the Russian military needs up to 100UAVs and at least 10 guidance and control systems to ensure effectivebattlefield reconnaissance.
The Russian Defense Ministry has previously expresseddissatisfaction with locally manufactured UAVs, and decided to buy themfrom Israel.
According to the ministry, some 50 Russian military servicemen areundergoing training in the use of Israeli-built UAVs and that a totalof twelve have been bought.
Russia has reportedly signed two UAV contracts with Israel. Underthe first contract, signed in April 2009, Israel delivered two Bird Eye400 systems (worth $4 million), eight I View MK150 tactical UAVs ($37million) and two Searcher Mk II multi-mission UAVs ($12 million).
The second contract was for the purchase of 36 UAVs, worth a total of $100 million, to be delivered later this year.
Russia and Israel have also been negotiating the establishment of a joint $300-million venture to produce UAVs.