Lawmakers in the Bundestag's budget committee backed leasing a fleet of Israeli-made Heron-TP drones on Wednesday, allowing the German army to operate drones capable of carrying missiles for the first time.
The controversial decision marks "an important signal" to the German army, said Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has been pushing for the step since early 2016.
The German army already flies its own small drones, as well as Israel's middle-sized Heron 1 surveillance aircraft in countries such as Mali and Afghanistan.
Defense Minister Von der Leyen said the Heron-TP could deliver images with better video resolution and fly longer distances, therefore offering better protection to German soldiers.
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