German Defense Ministry’s plan to lease Israeli-made armed drones has been halted after an appeal from the US firm General Atomics was made at a state court in Dusseldorf.
On Tuesday, state court stopped the Defense Ministry's plans to lease "Heron TP" Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), who had won the Bundeswehr's bid along with the European aerospace giant Airbus.
The ministry had hoped to get the deal done before parliament goes into recess in July, but US drone-maker General Atomics sued on the grounds that it had not been fairly handled by the government, and that the "Predator" drones the US uses are cheaper and better, Deutsche Welle German Radio reported Wednesday.
The drones purchase is part of a 1-billion-euro ($1.11 billion) funding package for the military which was postponed by the German parliament's budget committee on Wednesday.
The Defence Ministry had warned against delays, saying the acquisition requests were urgently needed to modernize an army weakened by years of spending cuts.
The public’s negative opinion on armed drones has also further delayed the process.
The Bundeswehr uses five different types of UAVs - the LUNA, the KZO, the ALADIN, the MIKADO (all German-made), and the Israeli-built Heron 1 - all of which can only be used for reconnaissance, target location, or area imaging. They have been introduced into combat areas since the beginning of the century - supporting US air strikes in Afghanistan and elsewhere - with the last of them, the Heron 1, first flown in 2010.