Germany last year ordered a small fleet of Israeli Heron spy drones designed to provide real-time images above a battlefield. That has brought German jet pilots to coastal Ein Shemer air base for accelerated retraining on the unmanned propeller planes, already daubed with their flag and Iron Cross emblem. “It’s for the need of the ground troops, for our own protection, like convoy protection,” said a Luftwaffe (airforce) major, who formerly flew a Tornado fighter-bomber on Afghan reconnaissance missions and could not be named due to military secrecy.
Israel is a pioneer of combat drones, having deployed them in Lebanon in the Palestinian territories. Heron’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), says it is also used by Canadian, French and Australian forces in Afghanistan. On December 12, 2012, Germany has expelled four employees of the Syrian embassy in Berlin in a diplomatic move to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad. German MPs of the lower house of parliament voted 461-86 on Friday, December 14, 2012, to approve the deployment of two Patriot missile batteries and 400 troops in Turkey along the Syrian border, Reuters reported.