Israel drone
IAI’s Searcher III drone, exhibited on Monday at the iHLS AUS&R exhibition in Rishon Lezion. (photo credit:YAAKOV LAPPIN)


Russia has purchased 10 Israeli intelligence-gathering drones this year, an independent Russian newspaper has reported in recent days.

According to a report published in the Vedomostinewspaper on September 4, which was made available to The Jerusalem Post by Israeli journalist Shimon Briman, the Russian Ministry of Defense purchased Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-made Searcher-type drones, which are known as Forpost (Outpost) in Russia.

IAI has declined to comment on the report.

According to Vedomosti, the drones are to be assembled in Russia in accordance with a license awarded to Ural Work Civil Aviation factory.

The Oboronprom defense industry enterprise owns 48.6% of the factory, according to the report.

The report cited two aviation industry managers, as well as a figure close to the Russian military establishment, as the sources for the information.

Briman, an expert on Russian-Ukranian affairs, described Vedomosti as a highly respectable business newspaper in Russia, which enjoys a good reputation and “relative independence from the Kremlin, as much as is possible.”

Forpost drone systems are used by Russia to monitor the Russian-Ukrainian border regions, according to Vedomosti.

In May this year, Ukrainian forces shot down two Russian drones over a conflict zone in the east of the country and retrieved the wreckage, publishing photographs showing the words “IAI” and “MALAT [UAV] Military Aircraft Group.”

One of the drones was struck by a special Ukrainian reconnaissance unit, according to a Guardian report from the time, near the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.

In January 2011, IAI delivered 12 drones to Russia for an estimated $400 million, in a contract that designed to allow Russia to manufacture its own advanced drones, UPI reported at the time of the delivery.

The delivery included short-range Bird-Eye 400 and I-View Mk 150 aircraft, as well as the longer-range Searcher II.

The Searcher Mk II and Mk III are both multi-mission tactical drones used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and damage assessment.

Media reports at the time of the first UAV transaction suggested that the military sales offered Jerusalem an avenue of influence as a means to reduce the chances of Russia selling advanced weapons to Iran, the Assad regime, and Hezbollah.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post