Bonn — The German military will extend for two more years its leasing contract with Rheinmetall Airborne Systems on two unmanned aerial systems for its mission in Afghanistan, , the company announced.
“The volume of the order prolongation amounts to about 75 million euros for the period from October 2012 to October 2014,” the company said in a statement.
Rheinmetall Airborne Systems is a joint venture of EADS’ defense and security subsidiary Cassidian, and German company Rheinmetall.
Stationed at the Mazar-e-Sharif base in northern Afghanistan, the company provides the German armed forces with three Heron-1-type medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs and two ground stations. The new order includes the continuation of flight operations as well as the training of additional German Air Force personnel and the installation of more powerful sensor payloads.
The operator model is part of the SAATEG interim solution. SAATEG stands for System zur abbildenden Aufklärung in der Tiefe des Einsatzgebietes, or system for imaging reconnaissance in the depths of the theater of operations. It was put into operation on March 17, 2010.
Rheinmetall Airborne Systems is responsible for service, maintenance and repairs with its own civil personnel in theater. The German military operates the systems during the reconnaissance missions. According to the company, the system has accumulated more than 9,300 flying hours.
The Air Force wants to continue this operator model until more capable initial SAATEG equipment arrives. However, the decision about the future basic and final SAATEG equipment has not been made. According to plans, it could consist of up to 16 MALE UAVs; five high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) SIGINT UAVs; and four HALE imagery intelligence UAVs.
Rheinmetall Airborne Systems was founded in January, when both companies agreed to pool their unmanned aerial systems activities. Cassidian holds a 51 percent shareholder stake and is responsible for industrial leadership. Rheinmetall holds 49 percent.