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Iran Press TV

Germany will stick to NATO drone plan: Minister

Iran Press TV

Wed Jun 5, 2013 5:26PM GMT

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere says his country will respect its commitment to assisting in funding NATO drones, despite the country's abandonment of a plan to buy its own unmanned reconnaissance planes.

"We have signed an agreement and Germany usually sticks to its agreements," De Maiziere said Tuesday as he went into a NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels.

Berlin gave up buying Euro Hawk reconnaissance drones on May 14. European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company N.V. (EADS) and Northrop Grumman manufacture the drones.

The German minister has come under criticism for the canceled project as opposition politicians say that 680 million euros (USD 875 million) have been squandered on the drone project.

German opposition parties also accuse de Maiziere, who is closely allied to Chancellor Angela Merkel, of holding back information on the cancellation, four months before a general election in the country.

Germany's armed forces have already been in possession of one prototype Euro Hawk and intended to purchase four other drones. Europe's powerhouse had allocated over one billion euros for the purchase and development of the aircraft.

However, the German Army ultimately said it would not procure the drones due to their failure in meeting security requirements.

The decision not to purchase the planes raised concerns over whether Berlin would go on supporting NATO's plan to obtain five high-altitude unmanned Global Hawks, also from Northrop Grumman. The acquirement of the planes is part of the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project.

"We will now look at the consequences of the Euro Hawk decision on the AGS," de Maiziere said.

In 2012, the German parliament's budget committee gave its consent to contribution of 483 million euro (USD 630 million) to the NATO drone project.

In May 2012, Northrop Grumman inked a USD 1.7 billion contract with NATO for a new surveillance and intelligence system that will comprise five drones and transportable ground stations.

Germany, along with 13 other NATO states, agreed to pay for the new system which is set to be ready between 2015 and 2017.


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