Germany has reached a preliminary agreement to lease up to five advanced drones from Israel for 600 million euros.
The deal, which was signed with the state-owned Israel Air Industries last week, stipulates that the large Heron TP (Eitan) drones will be initially sent to Germany to be made operational and deployed in 2018, Ynet reported.
General Volker Wieker, the German chief of staff, said that he preferred the Israeli-made drones to the American-made Predator and Raptor drones, which were designed to destroy targets from the air.
Notably, Israel has not previously confirmed that its drones can be armed to attack targets on the ground. A previous deal between Israel and Germany was specifically for reconnaissance drones.
According to a German media report, the Heron drones will be stationed in and operated from Israel. This arrangement is apparently an effort to bypass German regulations governing licenses to operate in German airspace, and also advantageous due to Israel’s location in the Middle East and proximity to the Asian theater.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has previously said that Germany has closer military ties to Israel than to any other country.
Over 100 German soldiers traveled to Israel last October to participate in the largest joint military exercise ever held between the two nations.
[Photo: SSGT Reynaldo Ramon, USAF / WikiCommons ]