First European-made drone with Finmeccanica's participation

First OK from ministers, also to be used on border patrols

20 November, 10:19

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 20 - Europe will be manufacturing drones. Starting from the next decade, small, unmanned planes produced by Eads, Dassault and Finmeccanica will fly over the EU (and third countries which are potential clients) on military and civilian missions like border patrols and the fight against illegal immigration in the Mediterranean.

    Seven European countries - Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Poland and the Netherlands - have agreed to launch joint drone projects with the aim of producing the next generation of unmanned aircraft on a European scale as of 2020.

    Defence ministers in Brussels approved a project to develop Male drones (medium altitude, long duration) which must now be approved - though the green light is considered a given - by heads of state and government at a summit in December which will be partly devoted to defence.

    The European Defence Agency (EDA) was entrusted with a research programme on the civilian and military use of drones, considering for example how useful they would be in monitoring the Mediterranean.

    Drones are essential in defence missions but are currently also used by real estate dealers to photograph properties on sale. They are currently produced only by the US and Israel.

    As the sector is expanding, the European initiative intends to provide an alternative to US Raptor and Predator and Israeli SpyLite drones and do so very quickly. Iran is also working to produce its own drones: a prototype was recently presented to the press called Fotrso, a very big drone inspired by a Predator which recently crashed in Iran due to technical problems which Tehran claims it captured.

    US drones have become sadly famous in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen as they were involved in operations to kill Islamic militants and activists wanted by the US.

    Under President Barack Obama, unmanned aircrafts have become essential in the fight against international terrorism as they are very effective and spare the lives of US soldiers.

    Their use however is also controversial with dozens, perhaps hundreds of civilian victims, 'collateral damage' or a war crime for some. US military drones are manned by expert pilots thousands of kilometers away from one of 22 US bases with special Joysticks (some are located in the desert) or in the Ramstein base in Germany. (ANSAmed).

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