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German army eyes leasing of Israeli Gaza killer drones

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Apr 25, IRNA -- The German army is interested in leasing ultra-modern Israeli drones which have been used in Gaza to kill Palestinians and the 2006 Lebanon war, the online site of the weekly Der Spiegel news magazine reported Saturday.

Planning to deploy the drones for aerial reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan, the German military is considering to lease the Israeli Heron 1 drone which is equipped with cameras and infrared as well as radar sensors.

A special German-Israeli company is to be created for the maintenance and operation of the Heron 1 drones as well as training German soldiers.

Israel has already signed a 100-million euro lease agreement with Canada to use the drones in Afghanistan.

Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the drones, said the company has customers from all over the world, including Switzerland, France and India, with annual sales of 500 million to 600 million US dollars.

Israel has used unmanned aircraft since the early 1970s for surveillance purposes and deadly airstrikes in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.

Drones have reportedly become such an integral part of Israel's air power that their flight hours now outnumber those of manned fighter jets.

The unmanned aircraft are guided by remote control from the ground.

Because of their small size and relatively low speed, their low-yield missiles can be aimed precisely.

The use of drones is shrouded in secrecy, and Israeli military officials refuse to comment publicly on whether they are being used in airstrikes in Gaza.

However, Israeli military officers in private talks have reportedly confirmed the use of the weapons.

Israel and the US are believed to be the only countries in the world to use unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, for both surveillance and o fire lethal missiles.

OT**1412

End News / IRNA / News Code 453159



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