Procurement: Searcher Reaches Afghanistan


April 29,2008: Spain has bought four Israeli Searcher II UAV systems for use by Spanish troops in Afghanistan. Each system includes four UAVs and ground control gear, and costs about $5 million. The Searcher II is a half ton aircraft with a 300 pound sensor payload (about the same as the one ton Predator) and an endurance of fifteen hours. This version of the Searcher has been in service for six years and has a good reputation. India is using more than a dozen of them for maritime reconnaissance. On the downside, Pakistan reported, in June, 2002, that one of its F-16s had shot down (with a Sidewinder) an Indian Searcher that had crossed the border. This was apparently the first air-to-air kill of a UAV by a manned fighter (although one or two Predators may have been taken down by Iraqi fighters in 2001-2).

Aside from that mishap, Searchers have one of the best reliability track records of any military UAV. Israeli and Singapore have also been heavy users, and are satisfied with the aircraft performance.


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