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Arie Egozi

The German Air Force teams that will operate the Israeli made HERON-TP UAVs have entered the last phase of training in a special complex at the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) Tel Nof airbase. This training is based on the vast experience the IAF has gained by operating this strategic UAV in different conditions and while it is underway, calls are growing in Germany to stop any plan to arm the UAV, which will mainly be used in Africa. As part of the process, German politicians visited Israel two years ago, and met with IAF officers and officials from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), who are manufacturing the UAV.

The contract covers the lease of seven HERON-TP UAVs for a period of nine years to support German operations in Africa and Asia. German sources have said that the UAVs are capable of carrying “unique air-to-ground missiles” which according to the German Defence Ministry are capable of aborting their trajectory towards the target if the risk of civilian casualties increases.

Arming the UAV was at the heart of the internal debate in Germany before the deal was approved, though German sources said during the negotiations: “several options to use Israeli developed weapons have been evaluated.” At this point, there is no decision on whether to arm the UAV.