Germany Delays Decision on Israeli Drones

BERLIN (Reuters) -

The German parliament’s budget committee on Wednesday postponed a decision on a 1-billion-euro ($1.11 billion) funding package for the military, including a deal to lease Israeli-made armed drones, sources told Reuters.

Some lawmakers of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) have reservations about leasing Heron TP drones from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which can be armed and used to protect soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Mali.

The higher court in Duesseldorf in May dismissed a legal challenge by U.S. weapons maker General Atomics to Germany’s plans to lease the drones from rival IAI. But the court this month said it had put the deal on hold again as it considers a complaint by General Atomics against its decision.

Some SPD lawmakers want the budget committee to delay a decision on the deal until a final court decision.

Germany already has three earlier versions of the Heron reconnaissance drone which are deployed in Afghanistan. They are maintained by Airbus and cannot be armed.