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Europe forms UAV group to study pilotless aircraft

November 19, 2013  By The Associated Press

Nov. 19, 2013, Brussels, Bel. - France, Germany and other European countries on Tuesday formed a “drone users club” to develop a rival to the U.S. and Israeli pilotless aircraft that dominate the field.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the European Defence
Agency has been tasked with drawing up a list of military requirements,
with the ultimate goal of creating a “European generation” of drones
within 10 years.

Some Europeans fear they are falling behind in an area that may
determine military aviation’s future. Many aerospace experts believe the
days of piloted fighter aircraft are numbered. In June, three major
European defence contractors — pan-European EADS, Italy’s Finmeccanica
and France’s Dassault — called for a concerted effort by Europe to catch

What Le Drian called a
“club” is open to any European Union nation that operates drones or
intends to within five years. The group was established at a meeting of
European Union defence ministers in Brussels. France, Germany, Greece,
Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Spain joined, the European Defence Agency
said in an announcement.

During its
intervention this year against Islamists in Mali, France relied on U.S.
drones as well as refuelling planes. Germany already uses unarmed
drones, including the Israeli-built Heron 1 model, for reconnaissance
purposes in places such as Afghanistan.


Last summer, German
Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said his country would work with
France to develop a new generation of armed aerial vehicles. “We have a
gap in our capabilities that we would like to close,” he said.

The European Defence
Agency said it will now consider military requirements, costs,
technological capabilities and other factors, and draft a report that
could become the basis of a European drone program.


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