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Germany may turn to the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton to resurrect its Euro Hawk program and claw back some of the almost €600 million ($750 million) invested in the project. The May 2013 cancellation was the result of concerns about the ability of the system to satisfy airworthiness regulations necessary to permit flight in civil airspace. However, another Northrop Grumman Global Hawk derivative—the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton—may enable the German defense ministry to restart the airborne signals intelligence capability, filling a gap left since the German navy’s fleet of five Br.1150 Atlantique aircraft were retired in 2010.
According to Lt. Col. Roland Runge, the Luftwaffe’s unmanned air system (UAS) tactics and air reconnaissance branch head, and the former lead officer on Euro Hawk, a similar platform offers one of only two possible options to deploy the Euro Hawk’s sensor package. With investment in the payload accounting for roughly half of the money spent so far, and an increasing need for ears in the sky to Germany’s east, a compelling case is emerging to get the sensor in the air.
“Around €300 million has gone into the sensor, and it cannot be fully developed or improved without this thing flying,” Runge told the Defense IQ UAS Training and Simulation conference in December.