European Defense Ministers Agree to Form ‘Drone Club’

European drone prototype, nEUronFrom AP:  France, Germany and other European countries on Tuesday formed a “drone users club” to develop a rival to the U.S. and Israeli pilotless aircraft that dominate the field.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the European Defense Agency has been tasked with drawing up a list of military requirements, with the ultimate goal of creating a “European generation” of drones within 10 years. . . .

What Le Drian called a “club” is open to any European Union nation that operates drones or intends to within five years. The group was established at a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Brussels. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Spain joined, the European Defense Agency said in an announcement.

From AFP:  Heads of state and government will formally greenlight the projects at an EU summit next month focusing on defense cooperation.

“If Europe hopes to maintain a strategic capability, countries must pool their capacities and actions in a pragmatic way,” said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian after the talks.

He welcomed the creation of a “club of drone-using countries” that will cooperate on training, certification, logistics, maintenance and future projects. . . .

Three big industrial groups, EADS, Dassault Aviation (IW 1000/740) and Finmeccanica (IW 1000/184) offered in June to work together to develop a MALE [Medium Altitude Long Endurance drone] if given the go-ahead by governments.

Image: European drone prototype, nEUron (photo: Dassault Aviation)