Caption: DeSIRE demonstration flight Credit: ESA photo

PARIS — The European Space Agency and the European Defense Agency (EDA) will extend their joint work on introducing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into civil European airspace through a 2.4 million-euro ($3.4 million) campaign to test UAV command and control via satellite, the two agencies announced.

The second phase of the DeSIRE project, or Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in Europe, follows flights in 2013 of an Israeli-built Heron UAV flying unsegregated air routes over Spain.

Under the new agreement, ESA and EDA will test the use of UAVs for environmental monitoring and maritime surveillance beyond the line of sight of ground antennas to manage the UAVs’ performance.

European militaries are gradually introducing UAVs into their plans, starting with non-European hardware including U.S. aircraft and, in this case, the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron vehicle.

Brussels-based EDA is financing 600,000 euros of the DeSIRE 2 program, with ESA paying between 1.2 million and 1.8 million euros, depending on the size of the contribution of the industrial consortium that will take part in the project.

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Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.