Germany favours Israel's Heron drone over US-made Predator

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany is in talks with Israel to buy weaponised drones for its military that are seen as more technologically advanced than US ones, the weekly Der Spiegel reported.

The news magazine's Monday edition said the German defence ministry had already held two meetings with Israeli military officials, in November last year and February this year, on the proposed purchase.

The chief of Germany's air force, Lieutenant-General Karl Muellner, was said to have recently gone to Israel to attend a presentation of Israel's Heron TP drone, Der Spiegel said. Berlin was believed to favour the Heron over the US-made Predator drones because it was seen as more cutting-edge, the magazine said.

Germany's Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere in February called for combat drones to be incorporated into the air force, saying their lack created a disadvantage. At the time, he made no mention about which drones Germany would be interested in.

But Germany had expressed an interest in jointly developing drone technology with France, to avoid becoming dependent on US or Israeli drones.

The issue of drones has generated an ethical debate in Germany, which does not use unmanned aircraft to fight battles but only for surveillance and reconnaissance missions in places such as Afghanistan.

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