Germany Denies Pentagon Report of Seeking Armed Drones | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 05.08.2008
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Germany Denies Pentagon Report of Seeking Armed Drones

Germany on Tuesday denied a Pentagon report that its military was seeking to buy new armed drones that the United States recently began flying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soldier looking through binoculars while sitting atop tank

Drones or unmanned combat aircraft were used by the US in Iraq

"There are no plans to purchase a fighter drone for the Bundeswehr," a spokesman for the German defense ministry in Berlin said.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress that Germany had requested a possible sale of five of the unmanned combat aircraft while Italy had asked for four.

The sale of the hunter-killer drones was valued at up to $330 million (212 million euros) for Italy, as the agreement would include five years of maintenance support. Germany's sale, which includes just one year of maintenance support, was estimated at $205 million.

Both countries are seeking the new drones "for the defense of deployed troops, regional security and interoperability with the United States," the DSCA said in its notification.

Man in suit pointing his finger at something offscreen

Italian PM Berlusconi has long been a supporter of the war in Iraq

"This program will increase Italy's ability to contribute to future NATO, coalition, and anti-terrorism operations that the US may undertake," the agency said.

Why fear the MQ-9 Reaper?

Known as a hunter-killer drone, the Reaper was deployed only recently in Iraq, flying for the first time from Balad Air Base on July 17. It's been used in Afghanistan since September.

The Reaper, which can carry four Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound laser guided bombs, can fly faster, higher, farther and carry more weapons than its predecessor, according to Lieutenant General Gary North, the commander of US air forces in the Middle East.

"We have turned a corner in warfare by bringing in this new platform that complements -- and I stress complements -- our incredible manned capacity today," he told AFP news agency.

"By acquiring this capability, Germany will be able to provide the same level of protection for its own forces as those of the United States," the DSCA said.

Germany currently has over 3,000 troops in Afghanistan, a number set to increase to 4,000 in the coming year.

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