Germany Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has expressed support for UAVs that can be armed. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/ / AFP)
BONN — German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen supports the procurement of UAVs that have the capability of being armed, according to statements in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
On Wednesday, there will be a debate in parliament on the controversial policy of armed UAVs. Von der Leyen previously had not publicly adopted a position, but now seems to favor the concept.
She suggested the parliament decide on their deployment and armament, and if they will be used for combat missions. While emphasizing that parliament would not vote on equipment for the troops, she pointed out that the parliament is deciding on the legitimacy of close air support.
Germany only uses UAVs for reconnaissance missions. For Afghanistan the Bundeswehr has leased some Heron type UAV systems. During missions those are operated by military personnel. However, this contract will expire in a few month.
In the newspaper interview, von der Leyen suggested a similar leasing solution for the future.
Over the long run von der Leyen favors the development of a weapon-capable European drone. She now wants to look for partners for such a project, which would take at least a decade. ■