Rheinmetall Defence and the German Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung – BWB) signed a service provider contract today to provide the German Bundeswehr with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities through the deployment of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system. This SAATEG Interim Solution programme will significantly contribute to comprehensive situational awareness within the scope of networked command and control in Northern Afghanistan, a region for which Germany is responsible, by providing wide area real-time reconnaissance and surveillance data for German ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops. Flight operations will commence by mid March 2010. Rheinmetall Defence and its partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will provide IAI’s Heron MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) UAV system, including full in-theatre logistical and maintenance services performed by Rheinmetall Defence. Missions of the UAV-System will be performed and controlled by Bundeswehr personnel. The Heron UAV can carry a wide variety of sensors and information systems for gathering data for intelligence analysis to protect the friendly forces during operations in theatre. The sensor package provided to the German Armed Forces includes a day/night electro-optical and SAR payload. By utilizing satellite communications the system covers the whole area of operations of the German ISAF contingent. The Canadian, Australian and French Armed Forces are already relying on the Heron as one of their main ISR sources in Afghanistan.