Germany’s first Euro Hawk unmanned air vehicle is en route to Europe, having made a delayed departure from Edwards AFB in California at around 11:50 local time on 20 July.
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk derivative is expected to touch down at EADS’s Manching site near Munich at around 10:00 local time on 21 July, barring any significant weather delays.
Following an arrival ceremony, the unmanned system will enter modification to have its Cassidian-developed electronic and signals intelligence mission equipment integrated.
Once adapted, the UAV will be placed into an extensive period of evaluation with the German military’s WTD-61 test organisation. The high-altitude, long-endurance type is due to replace the air force’s retired Dassault/Breguet Altantic surveillance aircraft from around the middle of this decade.
© Northrop Grumman
Previous flight tests of the Euro Hawk air vehicle (file image above) conducted in the USA have proven the design’s ability to operate at altitudes up to 60,000ft (18,300m), and to deliver an endurance of 30h-plus.
The US Federal Aviation Authority has declined to provide further details with regard to the flight plan issue which prevented the Euro Hawk from taking off on 18 July, as previously planned.
“We provided a recommended flight route for the Euro Hawk delivery flight to ensure the aircraft is operated as expeditiously and safely as possible to maintain the high level of safety of the National Airspace System,” it said in a statement. It deferred additional questions to Northrop.