The first Northrop Grumman Euro Hawk unmanned air vehicle completed its debut flight on 29 June, launching a six-month flight test process before delivery to Germany by the end of the year.
The first flight was completed at Edwards AFB, California at 12:24 local time, nearly 2h after take-off. The Euro Hawk climbed to 32,000ft (9,750m) during the initial flight, reaching almost half its expected operational ceiling, Northrop says.
All images © Northrop Grumman
"This is a wonderful start for the Euro Hawk's flight-test programme," says Duke Dufresne, a Northrop sector vice-president and general manager.
The latest variant of the US Air Force Block 20 Global Hawk adds several modifications, including wing stores and ventral fins, to accommodate Germany's requirements for a signals intelligence aircraft to replace its navy's ageing Breguet ATL-1 Atlantics.
In Germany, Euro Hawk GmbH, a 50:50 joint venture between Northrop and EADS, will install the SIGINT payload, and deliver the mission control and launch and recovery ground segments.
The German military plans to buy four production Euro Hawks over a period of several years, with later deliveries expected between 2016 and 2017, Northrop says.