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EU Leaders Start 'Drone Club' for a 'European Generation'

Defense heads to create fleet of drones to compete with US, Israel

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

A Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2011 (Eric Gay, AP)European leaders are banding together to form the world's first "drone club" in a bid to stay up-to-snuff on the lethal technology now pervasively used by the United States on battle fields and neighborhoods across the world.

France, Germany and several other European countries said the "drone users club" would welcome any European Union country that currently has drones or plans to have them in the near future, in order to close the military-industrial "gap" between European states and the U.S. and Israel.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the group's ultimate goal is to create a "European generation" of drones within a decade.

Agence France-Press reports:

EU defense ministers meeting in Brussels approved a series of projects to develop Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) pilot-less aircraft from 2020.

Heads of state and government will formally green-light the projects at an EU summit next month focusing on defense cooperation. [...]

Three big industrial groups, EADS, France's Dassault Aviation and Italy's Finmeccanica offered in June to work together to develop a MALE if given the go-ahead by governments.

"Many aerospace experts believe the days of piloted fighter aircraft are numbered," The Associated Press reports.

France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Spain are so far the first to sign up.

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