BERLIN Germany, which used unmanned aircraft in warfare during World War Two, should deploy armed drones in its military, its defense minister said.
"A drone is nothing more than a plane without a pilot," Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the daily "Die Welt" in an article to appear on Saturday.
He said he was in favor of the German armed forces using armed drones, according to an advance copy of the article.
"Planes can be armed so why shouldn't unmanned aircraft be allowed to be armed as well? I don't understand that," he added.
Buying arms has been a sensitive issue in Germany ever since World War Two, when Germany developed unmanned weapons and used them to bomb cities in Britain.
The daily cited de Maiziere as saying drones were nothing new, given that torpedoes and missiles also are unmanned.
Germany has been using three leased Israeli Heron drones for surveillance in Afghanistan. The defense ministry is considering buying U.S. Predator B drones, which carry weapons and also have surveillance systems, for use from 2015.
Alternatively, it could buy the Heron successor model, the Heron TP, which is also armed. A decision is expected to be made in the autumn.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Michael Roddy)