EU has spent over 300 million on surveillance with drones in four years

Unmanned systems have been flying regularly for the European Union’s agencies since 2017. Now, member states are also receiving funding for drones at their external borders. Soon, remote-controlled patrol boats could be deployed.

The EU Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has published a new call for unmanned surveillance of European maritime areas. A company is being sought via the European tendering platform „Ted“ to carry out an initial 2,300 flight hours with larger drones for 20 million Euros. They are to operate in a radius of at least 500 kilometres and remain in the air for more than ten hours. According to the plans, the drones will operate without a runway. This should make it possible to decide quickly and flexibly on their deployment to an operational area.

With the new order, the EU Commission has spent at least 308 million Euros on the use of drones since 2017. That does not include research and development of drone services. A study presented in 2014 by the British non-governmental organisation Statewatch, for example, put this at around 500 million euros. „EU has spent over 300 million on surveillance with drones in four years“ weiterlesen

Artificial intelligence: Frontex improves its maritime surveillance

Frontex wants to use a new platform to automatically detect and assess „risks“ on the seas of the European Union. Suspected irregular activities are to be displayed in a constantly updated „threat map“ with the help of self-learning software.

The EU border agency has renewed a contract with Israeli company Windward for a „maritime analytics“ platform. It will put the application into regular operation. Frontex had initially procured a licence for around 800,000 Euros. For now 2.6 million Euros, the agency will receive access for four workstations. The contract can be extended three times for one year at a time.

Windward specialises in the digital aggregation and assessment of vessel tracking and maritime surveillance data. Investors in the company, which was founded in 2011, include former US CIA director David Petraeus and former CEO’s of Thomson Reuters and British Petroleum. The former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gabi Ashkenazi, is considered one of the advisors. „Artificial intelligence: Frontex improves its maritime surveillance“ weiterlesen

After the war over Nagorno-Karabakh: British military flirts with Turkish-style armed drones

Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles are smaller and much cheaper than their US counterparts. They can be procured in large numbers, so their loss in action is of little consequence.

There is growing support in the UK for a new programme with smaller armed drones. This is what the daily „Guardian“ writes with reference to senior officials of the British Ministry of Defence. According to the paper, the military should procure light-weight unmanned aerial vehicles like those used by Turkey in Azerbaijan’s attack on the region around Nagorno-Karabakh. These are significantly cheaper than the US combat drones currently flown by the Air Force. Therefore, they could be bought in much larger numbers.

Azerbaijan’s six-week war against the Armenian-defended region of Nagorno-Karabakh is considered the first to be decided with the help of drones. The Azerbaijani military used so-called kamikaze drones of the type „Harop“ from Israel, which can circle over the area of operations for hours before hitting. The German Army had also considered procuring these „loitering munitions“ until 2013, but initially postponed the plans until 2019 and later abandoned them in favour of larger drones. „After the war over Nagorno-Karabakh: British military flirts with Turkish-style armed drones“ weiterlesen

German Social Democrats tip the scales against arming Heron TP drones – but now the „Eurodrones“ are coming

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

Big business with throw-away military drones

The defence company Airbus is expected to have produced 2,000 target drones soon, at a unit price in the six-digit range. The Bundeswehr uses them for air defence training. Further missions are testing swarms of drones.

To train air defence forces, the military simulates another aerial vehicle or an approaching missile with so-called target drones. The unmanned aircraft is then not always shot down, sometimes only the detection and tracking of the target is tested.

The Bundeswehr has been using target drones since the 1980s at the latest. Initially, the troops flew a petrol-powered model aircraft, for example the KZD-2 („Kleinziel-Drohne 2“). „Big business with throw-away military drones“ weiterlesen

German government publishes roadmap on drone armament

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

German battle about arming drones: Unmanned cardboard characters

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

German Airbase in Jagel: Waiting for the drones

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

Stationing in Israel: New Bundeswehr drone completes first flight

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