Germany said Tuesday that it would buy up to five military reconnaissance drones capable of carrying missiles from Israel until a similar European model has hit the market, AFP reports.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that Berlin aimed to ink the deal to buy three to five Heron TP drones this year from Israel’s Aerospace Industries, adding that their weaponization was “important for the protection of our soldiers in deployments abroad”.
It systems will be delivered by 2018 and will cost 580 million euros ($629 million).
She said the procurement was intended to bridge the period until a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by France, Italy and Spain is operational, a development that is slated for 2025.
The German military, which currently uses Israel’s Heron 1, opted for the Heron TP over the Predator drone from the United States. Sources said the Heron TP would be available more quickly and would make for a smoother transition between models.