German Parliament Committee Supports Israeli Intel Drones Lease Plan - Reports
Germany's parliamentary budget committee supported Wednesday the military's plans to lease Israeli-built Heron-TP surveillance drones, with a debate promised over arming the UAVs, Reuters reported, citing committee sources.
According to Reuters, the agreement will cost approximately 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) and will include two separate contracts: one with Airbus, which is planned to manage the drone program, and the other with the Israeli government, which will provide training, infrastructure and logistics for the planes stationed on their soil.
The lease program, agreed in a new coalition accord by Merkel's CDU and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in February, is aimed to become a temporary solution until 2025, when a European drone is expected to be ready.
Previously, the deal had been opposed by the SPD, as the drones could be armed in the future. Thus, in their coalition accord in February, the SPD and the CDU agreed to lease the drones, built by Israel Aerospace Industries, through 2027, but to suspend a decision on arming them until the parliament has debated the issue.
At the moment, the German military uses Heron drones that cannot be armed.
Commenting on the committee's decision, Chief of Staff of the German Air Force Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz underlined that it would ensure a better protection of German troops.
However, the move has been met with strong opposition from the Green Party, which voted against it.
"The big promised debate about the arming of the drones is a farce given what's already included in this contract," Tobias Lindner, a Greens lawmaker and a member of the budget committee, said.
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