Spain Snaps up Searcher-II UAVs for Afghan Mission
In April 2007, Spanish reader Pedro Lucio alerted us to an official announcement that Spain’s Ministry of Defence had issued a EUR 14.37 million (then about $19.5 million) contract for unmanned air vehicles that would be deployed to support Spanish troops in Afghanistan. The contract was awarded to a consortium formed by Indra Sistemas and EADS-CASA, and Israel’s IAI; they will produce IAI’s Searcher-II-J UAV, which received excellent reviews from India in the wake of the 2004 tsunami.
Ongoing updates include delivery, a complementary buy of mini-UAVs, and the first flight in Afghanistan. The key characteristics of Spain’s new sistema de Plataforma Autonoma Sensorizada de Inteligencia (PASI), and contract developments, include…
The Searcher UAV System
Each Searcher-II system comprises 4 UAVs, a ground control station, a launch/recovery system, a ground data terminal, and a remote video terminal. The UAV can also be fitted with a range of surveillance equipment, from turrets with day/night optics, cameras, and laser markers; to SAR radars that scan the ground below; to electronic signals interception packages.
IAI lists the Searcher-II’s range as 300 km, with a total endurance of 20 hours in ideal conditions. Other sources also note the UAV’s maximum operating altitude of 18,500 feet, which will come in very handy in Afghanistan’s elevated and mountainous terrain.
Updates and Milestones
The consortium has committed to completing the contract by September 2008, at a cost that is lower than Spain’s authorized budget of EUR 17 million. Pedro, muchas gracias for the heads-up and translation help.
April 15/08: The first flight of Spanish Searcher Mk. II-J UAVs deployed to Afghanistan takes place at the Herat forward support base. The PASI system components had arrived in mid-March. Spanish MDE release.
Jan 14/07: The lateness of the Searchers may have triggered a complementary purchase for Spain, which will pay dividends even after the Searchers arrive: a EUR 3.1 million buy of 9 RQ-11B Raven mini-UAV systems (27 UAVs). See “Raven UAVs Winning Gold in Afghanistan’s “Commando Olympics” for more.
Dec 21/07: Spain’s Army announces the hand-over of the first Searcher-II UAV system.
April 27/07: Spain’s Ministerio de Defense de Espana announces the purchase.