According to Defense News, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is preparing to ask German lawmakers to authorize a €1 billion ($1.22 billion) program to lease a handful of armed Heron-TP drones from Israel. The minister will likely make the request “within days or weeks.”
The report states that Berlin would not actually take delivery of the aircraft, but instead would deploy the drones in Israel and bring Airbus into the fold to manage the program. While the drones would start by providing deployed German forces with surveillance capabilities, the program would evolve to include a precision strike capability as well.
The policy measure is expected to receive support from legislators as long as there is a strong emphasis that the drones won’t be used for extra-territorial strikes, which have been made infamous by the United States. Defense News noted that focusing the program on protecting German forces can essentially sidestep the ethical debate around combat drones, which has been a