Germany, France and Italy have signed a declaration of intent (DoI) to carry out a definition study worth up to €1bn into the European developed medium altitude / long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial system.

This new development is part of a proposed European drone programme planned in 2013 to minimise dependence on the US and Israeli Military technology.

With this new step, the first European drone is expected to be operating by 2025.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quoted by Reuters as saying: "It’s a very important step for European co-operation, a critical co-operation, which we must have at our disposal in many theatres of operation."

"The first European drone is expected to be operating by 2025."

The officials have also added that Spain and Poland have expressed interest to join the plan.

As part of this, aerospace companies such as Airbus, Alenia Aermacchi and Dassault will conduct a two-year definition study of MALE drone.

Airbus Defence and Space CEO Bernhard Gerwert said: "This important step by industry and government clearly recognises that sovereignty in development of new systems, and specifically in military reconnaissance and unmanned aviation is of strategic importance for European security.

European armed forces are currently using large drones that are mostly developed by the US and Israel.

With this new programme, EU is planning to develop a MALE drone, which will be capable of flying at an altitude of up to 9,000m for 24 hours.