Unmanned killing aircraft: greens fear drone weaponization

The Defense Department is seeking a bid for the Predator B drone, which can easily be made combat-ready. Greens chide: You have to have a debate.

Knowing the Air Force, the 500-million-euro Hawk certainly won’t make it into the air on schedule in 2016. Picture: ap

It’s possible the Bundeswehr will get its favorite drone after all: the Predator B. In its answer to a small question from the Green Party, the Defense Ministry says it has decided to "obtain a bid for the procurement of Predator B unmanned aerial vehicles." However, a purchase decision is not expected until the fall, writes Defense State Secretary Christian Schmidt (CSU) in the paper, which is available to the taz.

The Predator ("predator") was desired by the German Air Force years ago. It is a product of the U.S. company General Atomics and, armed with Hellfire missiles, is used by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But in 2009, the Bundeswehr initially received the Israeli Heron reconnaissance drone, which was developed together with Rheinmetall. Some arms experts suspected that this was a compensation deal for Israel’s purchase of German submarines. After all, the Predator was much better. But the Heron was then merely leased.


Now, however, it could be replaced by the Predator in its unarmed version. The Greens do not like this change. "Apparently, the Bundeswehr wants to acquire drones with the successor system to the Heron, which can be armed without any problems," Green armaments politician Agnieszka Brugger told the taz.

"I think it is completely irresponsible to introduce a new weapon system" without sufficient debate about what the drones should be used for. In Afghanistan, for example, the Bundeswehr uses other reconnaissance drones, Luna and KZO, in addition to the Heron. The latter, however, are tiny compared to the Predator, which weighs about four tons and has a wingspan of 20 meters.

But a giant U.S.-European drone, Euro Hawk, with a wingspan of 40 meters, is already being tested at the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle fur Luftfahrzeuge in Manching, Bavaria, right next door to the co-developing EADS company. It is to be used as a spy drone from 2016.

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