Spain is reportedly set to acquire four Reaper surveillance drones from General Atomics, a move that will make the country the fifth European nation to benefit from the US-made unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV).
Agence France Presse cited Spain’s Defence Ministry as saying that its defence budget for the next year has included €25m ($27m) for the acquisition of four reconnaissance drones and two ground stations.
Spain has announced a total budget of €171m for a five-year drone programme.
A ministry spokesman was quoted by the news agency as saying: "This type of equipment is necessary in operations today."
For this project, General Atomics will collaborate with Spanish engineering firm Sener, the ministry official added.
The Reaper surveillance drones are designed to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.
Currently, in addition to the US, the countries using the Reaper system include the UK, France and Italy. Moreover, the Netherlands has recently placed orders for this UAV system.
The weaponised drones have been used extensively by the US for counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
However, Spain is expected to purchase an unarmed version of the UAV, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, Germany, France and Italy recently 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.
Image: General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper. Photo: courtesy of Gerald L Nino.