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France, Germany Confirm Armed Drone Project

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Own Armed Drones

(Source: Deutschland.de; issued April 1, 2015)

BERLIN --- Germany and France are to team up to develop military drones that would initially be used for battlefield surveillance, but could later be armed, the two nations' leaders said in Berlin Tuesday. Italy will also participate in the project which is to be settled before the year is out.

Currently, the German military forces lease or buy drones built in the United States and Israel. They will also team up to launch military surveillance satellites by 2018.

French President Francois Hollande explained why after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin: "This is so we can be independent, independent in manufacture, independent in the use of the images. Images are power."

Hollande said this was an essential resource for European military forces in action. "That means we don't have to rely on other people's images," he said.

Germany's parliamentary defence committee was informed about the project just before the announcement.

The new generation of drones, capable of remaining airborne 24 hours at a time, would be ready between 2020 and 2025. Unmanned aircraft big enough for that mission would also be big enough to carry missiles.

Germany is to decide this year what existing drone system to lease or buy until the European model arrives. Its current main drone is the Heron 1 series, which it leases from Israel.

Three companies appear keen to form a consortium to win the drone contract: Airbus, Dassault Aviation of France and Alenia Aermacchi of Italy. They made first proposals in May 2014.