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  • Germany's Sigint Successor Soars
    Posted by Robert Wall 12:00 PM on Jun 30, 2010

    The Luftwaffe’s efforts to renew its airborne signals intelligence capabilities have moved one step closer to realization with the first flight of the Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft.

    The Euro Hawk, a derivative of the Global Hawk Block 20 the U.S. Air Force has bought, flew on June 29 from 10:32 a.m. to 12:24 a.m. local time from Palmdale to Edwards AFB, Calif. where the initial check outs are taking place. The air vehicle reached 32,000 ft.

    blog post photo

    blog post photo

    blog post photo

    (credit: Northrop Grumman)

    The air vehicle features distinctive sigint pods, although the EADS-developed electronic sensor suite will not be installed until the air vehicle makes it to Germany before year-end. The pods bring a 10% drag penalty over the Block 20 configuration.

    The German air force should receive the Euro Hawk in 2011 for demonstration and trials to enable a procurement decision for additional systems.

    Germany had been relying on the Atlantique 2 for signals intelligence gathering, but the last of those are being phased out this year.

    The event is a big milestone for the Luftwaffe and also some good news for Northrop Grumman, which has come under fire at the Pentagon for Global Hawk costs.

    Furthermore, the company suffered a setback on the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance program with Denmark's defection owing to budget pressures. That step is not fatal to AGS, though, says a NATO official, although, he warns, the departure of a major contributing alliance country could be.

    Tags: ar99, Euro Hawk, Northrop Grumman, Luftwaffe

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