BONN — Germany may select the General Atomics Predator B as a medium altitude-long-endurance (MALE) UAV as the country works to expand its UAV capabilities.
A spokesman at the Defense Ministry confirmed that only the manufacturer of the Predator had been asked for a tender after an evaluation of all systems available on the market. Rival Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), with its Heron TP MALE UAV, has not been invited at this point. No final decision has been made.
“However, a final procurement decision can only be made after a successful examination of the tender,” the spokesman said. An examination is expected to happen during the upcoming weeks.
Since March 2010, the German military has leased three Heron 1 type MALE UAVs for use in Afghanistan. Those are provided by Rheinmetall Airborne Systems and partner IAI, which provide their own civilian personnel in theater. The German military operates the systems only during reconnaissance missions.
Rheinmetall Airborne Systems was founded in January as a joint venture by EADS’ defense and security subsidiary, Cassidian, with German company Rheinmetall.
EADS has been pursuing an advanced UAV project called Talarion, but it has been shelved due to a lack of interest. A spokesman for Cassidian offered no further comment on the possible German selection of Predator-B.
For the German military, the Heron 1 in Afghanistan is an interim solution on the way to establishing a full SAATEG (System zur abbildenden Aufklärung in der Tiefe des Einsatzgebietes or a system for imaging reconnaissance in the depths of the theater of operations).
The tender would bolster its initial capability and in the end would consist of up to 16 MALE UAVs, five high-altitude-long endurance (HALE) signals intelligence UAVs, and four HALE imagery intelligence UAVs.
While the imagery intelligence systems could be based on the RQ-4B Global Hawk, the signals intelligence systems are based on the newly developed Eurohawk. It uses the airframe of the Global Hawk UAV with a signals intelligence system developed by Cassidian.