France plans to arm drones currently used by its military for intelligence and surveillance, French media reported on Wednesday.
The plan was revealed by French Defence Minister Florence Parly at the Summer University of Defence in Toulon, southeast France.
"I decided to initiate the armament process of our drones of intelligence and surveillance," the minister told an audience of military officials and parliamentarians.
"This is a key capability of tomorrow's battles, just like armors or airplanes in their days, and France can not miss it or else our country will be left behind," she stressed.
According to Parly, the advantage of drones is that they can be mobilized "faster than airplanes," which will enable the French army to enhance "effectiveness" and limit the risk of collateral damage.
The minister did not mention when the process will begin or what kind of weapons military drones will be equipped with.
However, according to media reports quoting the minister's entourage, the six Reaper military drones that France purchased from the United States, which it expects to receive in 2019, should be equipped with weapons.
The source said that as drones are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, their deployment will "pose a permanent threat to terrorist armed groups."
The United States and Israel are already using armed drones. France is working with Germany, Italy and Spain to develop the European MALE drone, a project expected to be completed in 2025.