Germany’s ruling coalition partners have given their go-ahead to continue the multinational project to develop the Eurodrone, reported German military blog Augen Geradeaus.
The approval will ensure funding for the program, which includes France, Italy, and Spain.
The three governments are expected to put forth the necessary resolutions “so that the contracts for the development and procurement of the Eurodrone can be signed in March as planned,” the blog wrote.
The green light from the ruling German coalition is significant because one of the left-leaning partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is a staunch critic of armed autonomous weapon systems.
SPD’s opposition last year resulted in the government not arming the Israeli Heron TP drone despite a demand for it from the German armed forces.
As the SPD was part of the coalition committee that approved the multinational project, the statement about the project included a clause that says that the program “should initially only be about the development of an unarmed drone system,” Augen Geradeaus reported.
L’eurodrone ne sera pas armé coté allemand. Et il sera réservé aux missions de surveillance. Du moins sur le principe. Accord Coalition. Cela n'empêche pas les autres acteurs du programme (FR, ESP, ITA) de prévoir un armement. https://t.co/hXPNXfsx20
— B2 – Bruxelles2 (@bruxelles2) February 4, 2021
Meanwhile, in the next step of the project, the German ministry of defense is expected to submit a request for funds to the budget committee in March.
Bundeswehr: Largest Eurodrone Client
Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have set a budget of 7.1 billion euros ($8.4 billion) to acquire 63 Eurodrones, with each of the aircraft costing around 160 million euros ($192 million), well below the 200 million euros ($240 million) per Reaper, which three of the nations currently use.
The Eurodrone project aims to develop a twin-turboprop aircraft in two configurations: an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance version, and another which will be armed.
The project’s industrial team consists of Airbus Germany, Dassault Aviation, and Leonardo.
Airbus, the project’s lead contractor, wants to manufacture the drone mainly in Germany, Augen Geradeaus reported, adding the German armed forces will be the largest client for the system.