Italy, France and Germany agreed on Monday to develop a European drone programme for reconnaissance and surveillance, seeking to inject momentum into a proposal first considered in 2013 to reduce reliance on U.S. and Israeli technology.
In a joint signing ceremony, the defence ministers of the three countries pledged a two-year study to lay the basis for a European drone to be operating by 2025 and said Spain and Poland had expressed interest in joining the plan.
The scheme for a pilotless aircraft built by the three EU powers could be worth up to a billion euros if it gets airborne, officials said after the deal was signed in Brussels.
“It’s a very important step for European cooperation, a critical cooperation which we must have at our disposal in many theatres of operation,” French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, alongside his German and Italian counterparts.
“The goal of the Euro-drone is that we can decide by ourselves in Europe on what we use it, where we deploy the Euro-drone and how we use it,” German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.
“This makes us, the Europeans, independent.”
For a decade, European powers have tried and failed to come up with a common drone project, meaning that Britain, Italy and France currently use US-made Reaper drones. Germany and France also use Israeli-built machines. Competing national needs, corporate rivalry and a lack of government support have undermined past efforts.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com