France to arm military surveillance drones

September 5, 2017

France is set to arm drones that are currently used exclusively for surveillance and intelligence, a first for the French military, the defense minister said Tuesday.

Florence Parly said the decision will initially apply only to the six unarmed Reaper surveillance drones that France bought from the United States. Most of them, based in Africa's Sahel region, are involved in the fight against Islamic extremists.

Parly did not specify a timeframe for when they would be armed or what kind of weapons would be deployed.

The drones wouldn't become "killer robots," Parly said, stressing that strikes would be governed by strict national and international rules relating to the use of force.

Arming the drones will give them "endurance, discretion, surveillance and strike capability at the right place and the right moment," she said in a speech in the southeastern city of Toulon,

The armed drones will help France's military become "more effective" and enable it to better use its fighter jets, helicopters and other aircrafts, she added.

Parly added that in the longer term, France is also jointly working with Germany, Italy and Spain to develop an armed European drone.

The issue has long been sensitive in France, where some critics have expressed fears about pilots operating at a great distance from the battle ground.

A report issued by French senators earlier this year concluded that drones are now "at the heart of all operational tools" in the fight against terrorism abroad.

The report said many countries are already using armed drones, including the United States, Israel, Great-Britain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

Explore further: Spain to buy four US surveillance drones: defence ministry

Related Stories

New regulations curb use of drones in Poland

September 7, 2016

New aviation regulations have taken effect in Poland to limit the flying of drones in populated areas and to require identification plates on drones used for professional purposes.

New rules needed as drones crowd the skies

February 21, 2017

As drones increasingly crowd the skies, the risk of collision with other aircraft has come to the fore. Here's an overview of international regulation aimed at limiting the dangers.

Recommended for you

Printing microelectrode array sensors on gummi candy

June 22, 2018

Microelectrodes can be used for direct measurement of electrical signals in the brain or heart. These applications require soft materials, however. With existing methods, attaching electrodes to such materials poses significant ...

EU copyright law passes key hurdle

June 20, 2018

A highly disputed European copyright law that could force online platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay for links to news content passed a key hurdle in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.