The German and Italian Air Forces have expressed interest in buying the MQ-9 Reapers – armed drones which the US military has recently begun flying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said that Germany had requested five of the unmanned combat aircraft while Italy was seeking four.

The MQ-9 Reapers, known as hunter-killer drones, are unmanned aircraft that can carry four Hellfire missiles and two 550lb laser-guided bombs.

The aircraft are able to stay in the air for long periods of time and track targets indefinitely.

The US valued the sale to Italy at $330m, which includes five years of maintenance and support.

The value of the sale to Germany is $205m, including one year of maintenance and support.

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Italy has expressed their interest in the drones for the defence of deployed troops, regional security and better support of any NATO, coalition and anti-terrorism operations undertaken by the US.

Germany is looking to acquire the drones to provide a greater level of protection for their ground troops.

By Daniel Garrun