A billion-dollar deal for Israel Aerospace Industries to lease Heron-2 drones to the German Air Force was cancelled on Wednesday due to opposition within Germany’s governing coalition.
When the deal was announced in 2016, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the Israeli-made drones were selected because they could be armed with weapons systems. Yet the Heron-2’s ability to carry weapons was also the primary reason why Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, opposed the deal.
German lawmakers recently visited an Israeli industrial complex where the Heron-2 drones are stationed, discovering that the drones are already equipped with weapons systems and ready to begin aerial operations. SPD members informed the German defense minister they would not allow the deal to pass because the drones were armed.
Lawmakers confirmed the drone deal with the Israeli company was “dead,” but that there is a small chance the deal could be revived after Germany’s national election in September, the Die Weltnewspaper reported.
The deal would have seen German drone pilots operate three to five leased drones from Israel and undergo training on simulators at Israeli Air Force bases.