Lawmakers in Berlin could soon approve the deployment of armed drone for the Bundeswehr. German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen is to forward a €25 million EUR ($30.7 million USD) placeholder petition to the defense committees for a program to lease a number of Heron-TP drones from Israel. The entire contract is valued at around €1 billion EUR.
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Voting on the Heron-TP drones may happen soon
Airbus would maintain and manage the Heron-TP drones that would be stationed in Israel for the support of German troops with surveillance and precision strike capabilities. With the German Bundeswehr deployed in various countries around the world, not having the support of unmanned aerial strike vehicles would leave the troops unnecessarily exposed during combat.
Barring any surprises from the defense ministry, it seems almost certain that the Bundestag will vote in favor of the drone contract. The upcoming petition to parliament will most likely only cover the drones and sensors but not the weapons. The drone had been delayed since last summer and has caused the contract to go up in price to €720 million EUR ($886 million USD) in addition to €177 million EUR ($218 million USD) for a support agreement with the Israeli government.
According to Defense News, drone expert with the European Council on Foreign Relations, Ulrike Franke expects the Heron TP drone petition to be approved in the weeks ahead after a debate about the use of drone weapons has played out in the German society. In an interview Franke said:
“You could argue this forever, but the discussion has run its course,” she said.
Officials of the ministry of defense are ready to move forward as the agreed up cost calculations will expire on May 31st. Leaving not much time for the vote as the Bundestag starts their recess on May 18th.
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Photo: An Israeli Heron TP surveillance drone, known as the IAI Eitan, flies during a presentation to the media at the Tel Nof Air Force base, south of Tel Aviv, on February 21, 2010. (AFP /Jonathan Nackstrand)