The procurement of drones capable of being armed by the German Armed Forces, or the Bundeswehr, has been a hotly debated topic in Germany. For example, when the German Ministry of Defense decided to lease five Israeli Heron TP drones, it provoked General Atomics to take legal action claiming that Germany had not allowed sufficient room for competition.

Nevertheless, General Atomics only managed to delay the leasing agreements as their claims were ultimately dismissed. However, in June 2017 the plans to lease the Heron TP drones were further delayed by the parliament’s budget committee. Committee members belonging to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) were skeptical of the deal, as the TP drones can potentially be armed. Despite opposition in German politics, the growing instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa and the recent terrorist attacks in Europe seem to have eased some objections regarding the use of armed drones.

Currently the Bundeswehr only possess five types of drones exclusively used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) but Germany has also taken the lead in a joint initiative to produce a European rival for the American produced Reaper drone. This European twin turboprop Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drone is expected to be operational in 2025.

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Thousands of demonstrators protested against the fact that Germany hosts two US military air forces - Ramstein in in Rhineland-Palatinate and the US military’s African command headquarters (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart - indispensable for planning and operating (illegal) drone strikes. Source : (Oliver Dietze / EPA)

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