> our title:

EuroHawk UAV Collapse Threatens German Minister

> original title:

Minister on the Defensive: Drone Program Collapse Has Berlin Under Pressure (excerpt)

(Source: Spiegel Online; published May 22, 2013)

Thomas de Maizière has long been a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the defense minister now finds himself at the center of controversy after cancelling Germany's half-billion euro surveillance drone program last week. He has allegedly known about the project's problems for months.

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière was disappointed. The "stronger public debate" he had envisioned did "not really occur," he said, adding that the discussion was somewhat "anemic."

The generals listening to the defense minister in the German capital one evening last week were only moderately interested. De Maizière went on about veterans, esprit de corps and the timeless topic of maintaining tradition in the German military, the Bundeswehr.

He said nothing, however, about the more pressing piece of news making the rounds in Berlin. De Maizière had just cancelled the Euro Hawk surveillance drone program, one of the federal government's key defense projects, which failed because it was unable to fulfill the requirements necessary to be certified to fly in German airspace. Initial calculations indicate that the debacle represents a waste of more than €500 million ($650 million), but de Maizière, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said nothing about it.

Nor has he since. Instead, he is waiting for the completion of a detailed report on the drone program and plans to finally make comments in front of German parliament's Defense Committee on June 5. Waiting that long, however, promises to be difficult. This week, several new details have emerged, making it apparent that the Defense Ministry has known about the problems facing the drone program for years, yet continued to pump money into the program nonetheless. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Spiegel Online website.