German parliament approves €3B Eurodrone contract
The Budget committee of the Bundestag agreed to finance the pan-European MALE drone project.
With this move, the stalling program is on track to continue. According to an unnamed insider source quoted by Reuters, Germany is planning to order 21 drones, 12 ground control stations, and 4 simulators as a replacement for its small fleet of leased IAI Herons.
The European Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), popularly known as the Eurodrone, is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project. It is a joint development of France, Germany, Italy and Spain, hoped to be completed by the end of the decade.
The official contract between the countries and the companies developing the drone – Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo – is not yet signed. The milestone was expected before the end of 2020, but got delayed.
The program has seen its fair share of setbacks, being a subject of international disagreements numerous times after its initiation in 2015. Negotiations regarding the price and division of responsibilities were tied to numerous other European weapons development projects, and got solved only in late 2020.
The Eurodrone is planned to be a twin-engine aircraft with a wingspan of 16 meters (52 ft 6 in) and a payload capacity of 2,300 kilograms (5,070 lb). It is going to replace numerous American and Israeli platforms in surveillance and reconnaissance roles, as well as have a capability to conduct ground support and strike missions.
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