(CNBC)– Germany is close to finalizing a deal that will see the country buy its first weapons-capable drone aircraft — an Israeli designed model — from European aerospace giant Airbus.
The deal, worth nearly 900 million euros ($1.1 billion) including training and maintenance costs, has been politically contentious because of fears that having combat drones might make Germany more likely to participate in military action abroad.
In a written response to questions from opposition Left party lawmaker Andre Hunko, Germany’s defense ministry says it aims to sign an agreement by the end of May.
The government response, obtained by The Associated Press late Friday, adds the agreement foresees the deployment of the German Heron TP drones by mid-2020.
The initial deal doesn’t cover the purchase of weapons systems or training in their use.