German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere reignited a heated debate over armed drones today when he said the military would buy some.
He claimed that they would protect soldiers in dangerous situations.
Mr de Maiziere argued that they were identical in legal, ethical and technical terms to manned aircraft because someone would still have to decide whether to attack.
He said that Germany would develop the new-generation drones with France.
The country currently uses unarmed drones for reconnaissance in Afghanistan.
Opposition MPs condemned the decision, with Green parliamentary leader Juergen Trittin saying that it lowered the bar for military engagement.
Critics of drone strikes argue that they end up killing high numbers of civilians and that they are frequently launched across sovereign states' borders.
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