German Defense Minister Under Fire over Scrapped Drone Project

Germany cancelled the Euro Hawk program because it could not get certified to fly in European airspace

From PTIGermany’s Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere has come under fire over scrapping of a prestigious drone project after investing around USD 835 million dollars to build a prototype of the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.

Germany cancelled plans to purchase and modify US-made Global Hawk surveillance drones because it believed that European authorities will not certify them to fly in civilian airspace.

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green party have charged that de Maiziere knew long before that the ‘Euro Hawk’ will not get the flight permission for the European airspace, but withheld that information from the parliamentary defence committee until last week. He was also aware of the technical problems, which made the drone highly risky for civil aviation, but allowed the project to continue, SPD and Green politicians claimed.

The defence ministry is also facing allegations that it had denied the Federal Accounting Office access to vital documents on the ‘Euro Hawk’ project. The accounting office, which has been auditing the project since the beginning of last year, was not given all the documents it had asked for and in some cases documents were given only after making certain passages unreadable, its officials were quoted as saying in media reports.

"The defence ministry’s handling of the Euro Hawk project smacks a cover up," defence policy spokesman of the Green party in the Bundestag Omid Nouripour said.

"It is unacceptable that the biggest technical flop in this country for many years can be hidden from the parliamentarians," he said after a meeting of the defence committee.

Rainer Arnold, defence policy spokesman of the SPD said it was a "breach of trust" that the "massive technical problems" of the ‘Euro Hawk’ project, which are known to the defence ministry since the end of 2011, were withheld from the defence committee.   (photo: Reuters)

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