Germany’s two governing parties have reached an agreement to start the development of a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that would be dubbed the Eurodrone and developed in cooperation with other European Union countries.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) disclosed on Wednesday that the unarmed drone project would be implemented together with France, Italy and Spain.
Plans are already in place to have the necessary contracts for the program signed in the first half of 2021.
The German defense ministry noted the Eurodrone would primarily be used for reconnaissance. With this in mind, the industrial contracts that will be signed will not include the weaponization of the system.
However, German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that arming the Eurodrone at a later stage must not be ruled out.
“First of all, it is a matter of developing this drone,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters on Thursday morning. A decision on arming the Eurodrone could be made later, she said.
“My position on this is well known: I’m in favor of drones being able to be armed to protect our own servicemen and women and also being armed.”
Partner nations would certainly arm their drones, Kramp-Karrenbauer said. “I very much hope that we will also get resolutions for the future that make it clear: The protection of our servicemen and women is worth it that we also arm drones.”
Germany announced the Eurodrone project a year after it decided not to buy MQ-4C Triton unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (IRS) aircraft, opting to focus on manned aircraft for the role.
Prior to that, the country walked away from the development of its own, Euro Hawk, unmanned ISR aircraft after sinking $700 million into the program and failing to airworthiness certifications.