WASHINGTON (Apr. 7)
Israel Aircraft Industries is urging the U.S. Air Force to test the Harpy, a new radar-tracking drone, for possible inclusion in the U.S. arsenal, knowledgeable sources said Wednesday.
The effort comes within a year after Congress required the Pentagon to buy $38 million worth of Pioneer drones from Israel for use by the Navy.
A Capitol Hill source said the initial U.S. testing of six Pioneers has gone “remarkably well,” with the possibility that an additional 40 drones could be deployed.
The six drones, which are unmanned remotely piloted vehicles, have been used by the U.S. Sixth Fleet off the coast of Lebanon, sources said.
The Harpy, which is propeller-driven, is currently in production. Israel is asking the Pentagon to test the Harpy at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida under the U.S. foreign weapons evaluation program.
The Harpy is designed to fly missions similar to that of the U.S. Seek Spinner, another drone, which may not receive funding in the next fiscal year.
Despite having spent $125 million previously to develop the Seek Spinner, the Air Force did not seek funding for it for fiscal 1989, although the House Armed Services Committee last week approved a preliminary recommendation that $65 million be spent on the drone in the coming year.
One of the sources said that the Boeing Military Airplane Co., which is offering the Seek Spinner, was behind the effort to fund this drone in 1989.
He added that Israel’s Harpy is two to three years closer to being deployed than the Seek Spinner, and that the Air Force has determined that the Seek Spinner would be inferior to the Harpy.