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A US armed drone
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/AP Photo/File/Lt. Col.. Leslie Pratt, US Air Force

Germany 'should buy armed drones for army'

Timothy Jones
May 11, 2020

Armed drones would be a useful purchase for Germany's Bundeswehr, the outgoing parliamentary defense commissioner says. His comments came ahead of government deliberations on what is a controversial issue in Germany.


Germany's army should purchase armed drones to protect patrols in conflict areas, the outgoing parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces has said.

Such drones could act as "rapid close air support" and are perhaps "better in emergencies than waiting for a requested combat helicopter or fighter bomber," Hans-Peter Bartels told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) in comments published on Monday.

But Bartels said no one in Germany wanted to adopt the "American use of armed drones for targeted killings."

The US has often come under criticism for drone attacks in the Middle East in which numerous civilians have often been killed along with the targeted militants.

Read more: UN impasse could mean killer robots escape regulation

Controversial issue

On Monday, the Defense Ministry is holding a session that includes several representatives of civil society along with members of parliamentary parties to discuss whether the drones should be purchased. The aim, the ministry says, is to trigger a "broad social debate" and lead into a long consultation period.

The topic of armed drones is a controversial one in German politics, with several politicians rejecting their use on ethical grounds. It is also a possibly divisive issue within Germany's grand coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc and the leftist Social Democrats (SPD).

In December, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had recommended adding drones to the Bundeswehr's arsenal during a trip to Afghanistan, where Germany has deployed troops in a training and support mission for local security forces.

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