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Baloogan Campaign Forum • View topic - Germany May Revive Euro Hawk Using MQ-4C

Germany May Revive Euro Hawk Using MQ-4C

Moderators: Dandin384, Kushan, JanMasterson

Germany May Revive Euro Hawk Using MQ-4C

Postby JanMasterson » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:07 pm

Angus Batey | Aviation Week & Space Technology Jan 12, 2015
http://aviationweek.com/defense/germany ... sing-mq-4c

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.

The signals intelligence payload for Euro Hawk is split into two parts—electronic intelligence (elint) and communications intelligence (comint)—each placed in gondolas hung under the wings. This limits the options for a follow-on platform.

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“Most civil aircraft have engines under the wings,” Runge notes. “If you have the sensor gondolas next to the engines it creates lots of problems with reception, and you could create structural problems on board.”

The Bundeswehr (German defense department) considered deploying the system on another unmanned platform —it currently also operates the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Heron under a leasing agreement, and is due to transition to the larger Heron TP in 2015—but this option has been ruled out.

“We would have had to split the sensor load, but it is designed in a way that it interacts,” says Runge. “You cannot have a comint aircraft and an elint aircraft not communicating, and you would have to always have two airborne, [which is] very complicated.”

The choice has narrowed, therefore, to an unspecified business-jet platform or the Triton, which has been designed with civil certification in mind and carries subsystems to deal with icing and lightning-strike protection. It is this issue—certification of the safety of the airframe to fly over inhabited areas of Europe—that, Runge says, “broke the back of the Euro Hawk program.” Specifically, he cites NATO’s Standardization Agreement (Stanag) 4671, on airworthiness of unmanned aircraft, as the document that led to the program’s cancellation.

“In 2007, when we closed the contract, there was no Stanag 4671,” he says. “But it was in force in 2010 when we brought [Euro Hawk] over. This is what it was tested against, and obviously it was not up to the high standards that were required. We were already thinking about how to bring [lightning protection and anti-icing systems] into the program anyway, but the MQ-4C now is a somewhat complete package. We would recognize the [U.S.] Navy as an airworthiness authority that we could base our own airworthiness certificate on.”

“A lot” of the initial cadre of 11 pilots were trained to fly Euro Hawk during courses at Beale AFB, California, Runge says, three of them to instructor-pilot level. Three will be transferred to NATO’s AGS (Alliance Ground Surveillance) program, another Global Hawk-based system; five are currently undergoing conversion to the Heron.

Germany’s Heron program—initially envisioned as a short-term stopgap ahead of procurement of a planned European medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS—is “a success story, but there are some drawbacks connected with it,” Runge says. “It’s done missions of 96 hours-plus, and right now it flies about as many hours per year as a full wing of tactical aircraft, so it is comparatively cheap.”

The platform has flown over 20,000 hr. since it was deployed in March 2010. There have been some losses, which Runge ascribes in large part to issues around training, and the speed with which the system was deployed.

“We had 11 weeks training with IAI [in Israel], and after that there’s no follow-on training,” he says. “So you directly deploy into the area of operations, and at that time there’s zero operational experience.

It’s easy to understand that this creates problems.”
JanMasterson
 
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