Germany is set to join a small band of nations whose air arms operate armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, it's emerged. Finally giving in to the German Armed Forces' (Bundeswehr's) desire to be equipped with technology of this kind, the German government's decision was today announced in the Der Spiegel publication.
Answering a question posed by the country's Left party, German government officials described the need for weapons-equipped drones as ‘absolutely necessary, for protection in sudden changes in certain situations.'
Unleashing a capability not present in most UAV types, such weapons platforms could ‘quickly and precisely mount scalable attacks' on predetermined targets, they said, adding this would present ‘enemy forces with a constant and, for them, unpredictable threat that would limit their ability to act.'
Armed German UAVs
Already, the armed German UAVs move has been criticised, certainly by Left party member Andrej Hunko. "I am vehemently opposed to the Bundeswehr's drone strategy", he told Dr Spiegel, adding: "I'm also critical of the expansion of the use of reconnaissance drones."
The German Air Force is presently test-flying its Euro Hawk reconnaissance UAVs, with full operational capability expected to soon be achieved. It's now anticipated that the Bundeswehr will acquire MQ-1A or MQ-1B Predators, which are able to be fitted with AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.
After almost three decades' continuous military use, the Hellfire remains a staple of modern weaponry, with a top speed of Mach 1.3 and a range of up to five miles. Presently, four nations operate Predator UAVs: Italy, Turkey, Morocco and the US.
In related news, last month, a modified rotary UAV had its first flight in Germany. The EMT Museco (Multisensor Copter) helicopter is a VTOL UAV platform developed in Germany but based on a Swiss design: the NEO S-350. The older NEO S-300 VTOL UAV model can fly for up to 90 minutes, travel at up to 65 knots and carry a 30 kilogram payload.