European defense ministers signed up on Monday to carry out a definition study for a European MALE UAV program, hailing it as a step toward ending Europe’s reliance on Israeli and US drones.
“The goal of the Euro-drone is that we can decide by ourselves in Europe on what we use it, where we deploy the Euro-drone and how we use it,” German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.
“This makes us, the Europeans, independent.”
Under the Declaration of Intent signed by the governments of Italy, Germany and France, a two-year definition study will be undertaken, followed by a decision about whether to develop and procure the UAV.
The work will be undertaken by Dassault, Airbus and Finmeccanica, who first lobbied the governments to start a program two years ago. France, Italy and the UK all now operate General Atomics UAVs.
Describing the new deal, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “It’s a very important step for European cooperation, a critical cooperation which we must have at our disposal in many theaters of operation.”
In March, Le Drian said a new European drone would be ready by 2025, able to fly in European skies.