Italy was among the first countries to purchase unarmed Predator drones from the United States, acquiring six in 2001. This initial purchase was followed by an additional six MQ-9 Reapers in 2006, all of which are stationed at the Amendola Air Base at the disposal of the 28th Group (called Streghe) of the Italian Armed Forces. Italy has deployed its drones for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting, Acquisition and Reconnaissance) purposes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Djibouti, Somalia, Kosovo, Syria, the Mediterranean and Italy itself. The Italian Ministry of Defense budgetary planning of 2021 revealed plans to arm the Reaper drones. However, these funding plans still need to be discussed in and approved by the Italian parliament.
Ever since the US government has allowed Italy to arm its drones in 2015, years went by where this question was surrounded by ambiguity. The 2021 budgetary planning of the Ministry of Defense however, detailed a planned spending of €59 million scheduled over the next seven years to arm Italy’s Reaper drones. It is not clear what type of weapons are foreseen to be integrated in the MQ-9’s; the budget only outlines the intention to equip them with ‘new electronic warfare equipment’ and probably ‘standard munition.’
Italy is part of the Eurodrone project with Germany, France and Spain, brought into life to compete against Israeli- and US-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). As of January 2022, the project has green light to develop 20 Medium-Altitude and Long-Endurance (MALE) drones. The Italian company Leonardo is expected to build parts of the European military drone. Italy is also part of the nEUROn combat drone project and the ‘drone users’ club.
Since February 2016, the Italian government has allowed the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to use the Italian air base Sigonella and let (armed) drones take off from the base, the Main Operating Base for NATOs Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) located in Sicily, to mount defensive operations in North-Africa and the Sahel, for example against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Libya. So far, several civil organizations have pursued litigation actions but there has been little public opposition against the assistance of Italy in US drone operations.
Italian Disarmament Network (Rete Italiana per il Disarmo)
Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Coalizione Italiana Libertà e Diritti civil)
EFAD Statement on European involvement in US drone strikes
Droni: Dossier sugli APR Militari Italiani
In our monthly press review, curated by Internazionale, we translate, analyze and summarize news from various European publications on the issues of drones. In September 2020 the most frequent topics discussed in drone news were drones leading the air war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the European drone race, German debates on armed drones, drones flying over the English Channel, American drones…
21 September is the International Day of Peace, established since 1981 by the General Assembly of the United Nations with an invitation to all member states, regional and nongovernmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the day appropriately through education and public awareness. Global peace needs nonviolence and a ceasefire for all belligerents in the world called to lay down their…
In our monthly press review, curated by Internazionale, we translate, analyze and summarize news from various European publications on the issues of drones. In August 2020 the most frequent topics discussed in drone news were drone developments in the U.S., Russian drones, anti-drone systems, Germany’s involvement in the Turkish drone program and drone warfare in the Middle East. You can find…
The use of armed drones, particularly to conduct targeted killings outside formal war zones, is highly contentious. In the contemporary context, where conflict has moved beyond the theatres of traditional warfare to take place in undefined battle zones, and is chiefly characterized by counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations, drone use has brought to the fore critical questions on civilian casualties, the rule of law, secrecy and lack of accountability, among others.
In the second six months of 2019 Internazionale and VoxEurop produced six press reviews for the European Forum on Armed Drones (EFAD), monitoring how the topic of armed drones is developed and observed on the European press. This report is based on the articles published by the main European newspapers.
Date: 20 January 2020
Author: Internazionale & VoxEurop
The use of armed drones in the European Union has become a topic rife with controversy and misinformation. This report gives a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the approach to, and use of, armed drones in five European countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. Further, the report is intended to start a wider debate about armed drones in Europe and to serve as a guide on this topic for the European Parliament.
Date: 7 November 2019
Author: Open Society Foundations