Europeans Form "Drone Club," Looking To Compete With US, Israel

Two days before a
suspected U.S. drone strike
killed a senior member of the
Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Pakistan, the
Associated Press
reported that France, Germany, Greece, Italy,
the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain had formed what French Defense
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called a “club” to develop drones
to rival American and Israeli UAVs.

From the AP:

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 defense contractors — pan-European EADS,
Italy’s Finmeccanica and France’s Dassault — called for a concerted
effort by Europe to catch up.

It is not surprising that officials in Europe want to compete
with American and Israeli drones. UAVs are widely expected to be an
increasingly common feature of future warfare, and Europeans will
want to keep their militaries competitive with not only the
American and Israeli militaries, but also the militaries of
countries that have also been developing drones such as Iran and

Israel is the world’s
largest exporter of drones
. One of the most popular, the
Heron, a
drone developed by a division of Israel Aerospace
, is used by militaries around the world, and has
logged over
15,000 hours
in Afghanistan.

As well as selling drones abroad, Israel has used UAVs to carry
out targeted killings and conduct surveillance.

Likewise, the U.S. has used drones to carry out strikes against
Taliban and Al Qaeda suspects abroad, which may constitute
war crimes

A few days ago, Iranian officials unveiled
what Tehran says is Iran’s biggest drone so far, the “Fotros,”
which reportedly has a range of 1,200 miles, meaning that it could
reach Israel.

Last year, the Chinese unveiled the Wing Loong
drone, which is capable of carrying missiles and looks a lot like
the U.S. Predator drone. A
recent report
from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review
notes that the similarity has led some analysts “to
speculate Chinese espionage may have contributed to the Wing
Loong’s development,” citing
this article
in a footnote.   

For more from on drones click here.

from Hit & Run

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