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Airbus warns Europe to keep politics out of drone project: paper

Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Group Tom Enders gestures during the company's annual news conference in Munich February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) Chief Executive Tom Enders urged European governments not to place overly onerous political requirements on a joint project to develop drones, adding that the aerospace group could drop out if such conditions were not met.

There should be one lead nation and one lead company on individual military projects, with suppliers chosen on merit, Enders told the Financial Times in an interview.

Italy, France and Germany agreed in May to develop a European drone program for reconnaissance and surveillance, seeking to inject momentum into a proposal first considered in 2013 to reduce reliance on U.S. and Israeli technology.

"Pooling our requirements should be done intelligently and not in a highly politicized, nationally fragmented way," said Enders, adding that he supported European co-operation.

"This is something I will look for to be employed on this (surveillance drone) project. I would not be shy to opt out of projects if I get the impression that this would be . . . a recipe for disaster."

The countries pledged a two-year study to lay the basis for a European drone to be operating by 2025.

Airbus, Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) and Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI) are likely to develop the drones.


(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Jane Merriman)