Germany's Defence Ministry on Tuesday informed lawmakers that its plan to lease armed Heron TP drones from Israel Aerospace Industries will be delayed by months given a fresh legal challenge filed by U.S. weapons maker General Atomics.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen in January announced the army would lease the Heron drones for about 580 million euros instead of buying Predator B drones from the privately held U.S. firm or Switzerland's RUAG, prompting protests by both firms which were denied in May.
"This move by General Atomics is very unfortunate and frustrating, especially since our legal position was upheld by the (cartel office) with very clear words," a senior ministry acquisition official told lawmakers in a letter seen by Reuters.
General Atomics spokeswoman Melissa Haynes said the company filed the legal challenge "to ensure that this procurement is conducted as a fair and open competition; thereby ensuring that the German Ministry of Defense procures the most technologically superior and cost efficient solution."
She gave no details about the substance of the lawsuit.
It was the latest setback for the minister's efforts to rebuild the German military after years of declining military budgets and reports of ill-equipped troops. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: While Reuters provides no details, the lawsuit’s clear inference is that General Atomics considers customers aren’t capable of choosing their UAVs, and that it alone is entitled to win the contract.
A strange approach to marketing.)