On its website, the German Ministry of Defence gives the impression that the mass production of an EU combat drone has already been decided. First, however, the Bundestag is to vote on it. The Social Democratic Party is thus faced with a decision of great consequence.
The „Eurodrone“, for which the German government, together with the governments of France, Italy and Spain, wants to spend 7.1 billion euros, is also to be used for signal intelligence (SIGINT) purpose. This was announced by the Ministry of Defence on Friday under the headline „Eurodrone will improve Bundeswehr reconnaissance“ on its website. Until now, only imaging intelligence (IMINT) and armament had been discussed as possible applications.
The „Eurodrone“ could thus succeed the „Euro Hawk“ project, which failed miserably. High-flying drones of the HALE class (High Altitude, Long Endurance) were to carry three digital interception modules ordered by the Bundeswehr from the Airbus Group. After the US manufacturer Northrop Grumman had delivered a first prototype for test flights, the then Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) pulled the „ripcord“ on the project in summer 2013. To operate in German airspace, the drones needed a system to detect and avoid other aircraft. The US government and Northrop Grumman had withheld important documents needed for the approval process. „The armed „Eurodrone“ is also to fly with wiretapping technology“ weiterlesen
The LUNA is one of the most widely used drones in the Bundeswehr, and it is also the oldest. The contractor for a much more powerful successor system has now declared insolvency.
In the past two weeks, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) has decided to use the emergency brake against the arming of Bundeswehr drones. This concerned the HERON TP from Israel, which is to replace the HERON 1, which has been flown by the German Army since 2010. It is currently unclear whether and when the German government will try again to make up the decision for the armed HERON TP. Until then, drones will therefore only be used for reconnaissance. In addition to HERON 1, the Bundeswehr also flies the drone LUNA in Afghanistan and Mali. The abbreviation stands for „Airborne Unmanned Short-Range Reconnaissance Equipment“. „Germany: Problems with another drone project“ weiterlesen
The arming of Israeli drones has been stopped for now, but in coming months the Bundestag will vote on whether to approve purchase of 21 „Eurodrones“.
Since 2010, the German Armed Forces have been flying unarmed drones of the type „Heron 1“ in Afghanistan, and since 2016 also in Mali. They come from an Israeli defence company, the main contractor is Airbus with its German branch in Ottobrunn. From 2021, the successor model „Heron TP“ is to be available, which the Bundeswehr wants to arm.
These plans are now off the table for the time being. Actually, the budget committee was supposed to decide tomorrow on the purchase of missiles for the „Heron TP“. At the request of Social Democratic Party (SPD) defence policy spokesman Fritz Felgentreu and with endorsement of the parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich, the Ministry of Defence had prepared a corresponding draft resolution in November. The SPD forms the current government together with Christian Democrats. „German Social Democrats tip the scales against arming Heron TP drones – but now the „Eurodrones“ are coming“ weiterlesen
The governing coalition of Christian and Social Democrats wants to introduce armed drones in a hurry before the Bundestag elections. More and more SPD members of parliament are now positioning themselves against it
On 16 December, the Budget and Defence Committees of the German Bundestag are due to decide on the armament of the Israeli-derived HERON TP drones for the Bundeswehr. The Ministry of Defence sent a draft decision to the Ministry of Finance a fortnight ago, which will now be submitted to the Bundestag for voting. It is not clear how expensive the armament will be, the mounting points for the desired missiles alone have cost 50 million euros. All details of the ammunition are classified as secret.
In preparation for the vote, the Federal Government has updated an intergovernmental agreement with Israel. It regulates the training of German personnel by the Israeli Air Force and so far only applied to the unarmed HERON TP, which was ordered by the Bundeswehr two years ago. The agreement is now supplemented by the procurement and provision of ammunition, „appropriate additional technical equipment“ and „weapon-specific training“. „German government publishes roadmap on drone armament“ weiterlesen
The German Social Democratic Party sets conditions for the procurement of Israeli armed drones, which are fulfilled anyway
Now the Bundestag’s Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl, has also expressed her views on the arming of Bundeswehr drones. The topic is „ready for decision“, Högl explained to the German broadcaster ARD in an interview and at the same time mentioned conditions for unmanned operations with the „Heron TP“ leased from Israel. According to these conditions, the drones in the Bundeswehr’s mandate areas should „not be controlled from Berlin“. Technically, this would be possible, but in the draft leasing contract with the arms manufacturer Airbus, the Ministry of Defence has omitted the necessary ground stations. Högl is therefore making a demand which is being met by the military in advance. The matter is somewhat different for the mission control of the drones, i.e. the observation of missions in real time with the cameras and sensors installed in the „Heron TP“. It is carried out by the air force in Jagel, Schleswig-Holstein. The Commissioner for the Armed Forces does not say a word about this spatial dissolution of boundaries in drone warfare. „German battle about arming drones: Unmanned cardboard characters“ weiterlesen
Only 23 years after a military drone airport in Jagel was decided, large drones could actually be stationed there. But the squadron is already analysing images and videos of drone missions in Mali. In this way, „terrorists“ and „smugglers“ are also being pursued from Schleswig-Holstein.
On 12 April 2005, Peter Struck (SPD), the Defence Minister in office at the time, decided to expand the Jagel airbase between Kiel and Flensburg for large military drones. Since 1994, the 51 „Immelmann“ reconnaissance squadron with „Tornado“ jet fighters has been stationed there with currently 37 aircraft. From 2009, the first „Euro Hawk“ spy drone was to be transferred to Schleswig-Holstein, and a little later armed Bundeswehr drones were also to be stationed in Jagel. For this purpose, the military airbase was extensively converted, and the Air Force spent some 33 million Euros on a new hangar, parking areas, work on the runway and the necessary technology.
However, the German drone programme turned out to be a disaster. After delivery of only one prototype, in 2011, the Bundeswehr had to bid farewell to the „Euro Hawk“ due to certification problems. The failed 600 Million Euros project almost led to the resignation of the then Minister of Defence Thomas de Maizière (CDU). As a replacement, the German government wanted to station three „Triton“ drones from the same US manufacturer in Jagel from 2025 onwards; the Defence Ministry also abandoned this project in favour of a manned aircraft. „German Airbase in Jagel: Waiting for the drones“ weiterlesen
The Bundestag has not yet decided on the armament of the new „Heron TP“. Nevertheless, the German Armed Forces have already set up a „Weapon System Support Team“ for the drone and is developing curricula for the activators of the missiles; their training is to begin next year. Training will also take place in the USA.
In November, the first „Heron TP“ is to be delivered to the German Bundeswehr and stationed at a military airport near Tel Aviv. The drone made its first flight in Israel on Sunday, reports the Jerusalem Post. Which airspace was flown over during the test, the newspaper does not write.
The German Ministry of Defense has ordered a total of five „Heron TP“ from the armaments company Israel Aerospace Industries. In the case of simultaneous deployment in two mandate areas, the number of units could increase to seven, so that the training on the German drones, which is also taking place in Israel, does not have to be interrupted. At present, four German soldiers are being trained in Israel to control and command the „Heron TP“; a total of 35 teams of two persons each are to be qualified. „Stationing in Israel: New Bundeswehr drone completes first flight“ weiterlesen
Four European states now have armed drones, two of which already use them to combat „terrorism“. Another four might consider to weaponize units which have already been ordered, including Germany. All leading manufacturers of unmanned weapons systems from the USA, China, Turkey and Israel could then be represented in Europe.
The Serbian government has received a delivery of armed drones from China. Six CH-92A („Rainbow“) drones and 18 air-to-ground missiles arrived at a military airport near Belgrade a few days ago, according to local media.
The two systems are comprised of three drones each and the respective ground stations. Serbia had ordered a total of nine drones, which together are said to have cost around 27 million Euros. According to reports, a follow-up order for a further 15 drones has been agreed. „Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers“ weiterlesen
The German Bundeswehr discussed with members of parliament about the use of armed drones, but did not talk about their missiles
The German Ministry of Defense has ended its „drone debate“ and submitted a report to the Bundestag with arguments for arming the ordered Israeli „Heron TP“. Thus, only a Bundestag decision is now standing in the way of the procurement. This was preceded by a largely virtual series of events in the military Bendlerblock and in the Bundestag, at which above all supporters of the German drone programme had their say. „Iron will for unmanned air strikes“ weiterlesen
The Bundeswehr currently has more than 630 drones. More are to follow, and next year the giant PEGASUS drone will be ordered.
The German military drones have already completed more than 87,000 flight hours. This was written by the Federal Ministry of Defence in response to a parlamentarian question. With over 50,000 hours, most missions are flown with six Israeli long-range HERON 1 drones. The much smaller LUNA was in the air for around 18,000 hours. As of 2002, the Bundeswehr had purchased 145 units from the German manufacturer EMT. Like the HERON 1, the LUNA is also used in Afghanistan and Mali. „German Armed Forces drones complete 87,000 flight hours“ weiterlesen