EADS and Northrop Grumman could be awarded development contract by end of 2003

EADS and Northrop Grumman are proposing a Euro Hawk version of the US company's RQ-4A Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to replace the German navy's Dassault Atlantic electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft.

As part of the plan, a Global Hawk will be demonstrated in Germany next year equipped with an EADS ELINT payload in place of the UAV's electro-optical sensor.

The two companies plan to offer the Euro Hawk to Germany in the near term and then seek other European NATO opportunities, says Gene Ostermann, Northrop Grumman Euro Hawk programme director.

Karl-Friedrich Weitzel, EADS Dornier senior programme manager HALE systems, says Germany has not specified an unmanned vehicle as its next ELINT platform and that other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities could be required.

Ostermann says "we need to get started pretty quick" to deliver a 2008 initial operational capability. He says while Northrop Grumman has the Global Hawk, EADS has the ELINT sensor, can integrate the UAV's operations into German airspace and has ground station experience.

Next year's demonstration will aim to prove the ELINT sensor and its integration with the UAV and that the Euro Hawk can be flown in German airspace.

A mock-up of the ELINT sensor has been sent to Northrop Grumman for Global Hawk fit checks, and the next step will be the delivery of a prototype sensor for integration work in the laboratory.

In the fourth quarter the sensor will be integrated into an RQ-4A at Edwards AFB, California, ahead of engineering validation flights.

The demonstration will be flown from northern Germany "no later than" April next year, with three to five flights planned, says Ostermann. German navy ELINT operators will participate and Weitzel says the results will be fed into the "procurement process and will influence final requirements".

A Euro Hawk development contract could be awarded by the end of next year, with development starting in early 2004.

Weitzel says other German companies will participate and future roles could include integration of a NATO-interoperable air-to-ground surveillance radar. Germany has also been developing systems and procedures for UAV controlled airspace operations using a manned VFW 614 as a surrogate UAV.


Source: Flight International