WASHINGTON — A German Defense Ministry official said the military would not procure any more Euro Hawk UAVs beyond the demonstrator it already possesses, although Northrop Grumman said it has not received official confirmation that its Euro Hawk program has been canceled.
Stéphane Beemelmans, German state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defense, said at a Wednesday press conference, “For security reasons, because we cannot license the demonstrator aircraft available to us, a Euro Hawk, and therefore do not want to operate it, and for fiscal reasons, that we therefore have procured the demonstrator as the final one of its series and won’t procure any more.”
Beemelmans added, “We have tested this for so long, until we have found out that the thing cannot be configured licensable without immense additional money.”
“Germany has not notified us formally they have canceled, terminated or any way slowed down the program,” Tom Vice, Northrop’s president of Aerospace Systems, said Wednesday. “We have received no formal feedback and we’re disappointed in what we’re seeing in the press, but we can’t speculate on any of that until we have formal discussions with the Germans.”
The AFP reported Tuesday that Germany had canceled the Euro Hawk program over concerns that it would not meet certification for domestic flight over populated areas. However, Vice expressed confidence that issue could be worked out.
“I’m hopeful we can get into a dialogue about what the issue is and find a path to fix it, to address it,” he said.
Vice added that he does not foresee the German’s concerns impacting other European nations, including the $1.7 billion contract signed by NATO in 2012 for the purchase of five Global Hawk platforms.
“I don’t see this as anything systemic. I think it’s truly understanding the issues the Germans may have,” Vice said. “I think we need a sit-down with the Germans to work through this, and we’ll get back to you with a path forward.”
Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of Cassidian, which developed the Euro Hawk’s signals intelligence system,
said, “The mission system developed by Cassidian in Germany is the currently most advanced of its kind. The first flight tests have demonstrated the superior performance of this system.
“The mission system developed by Cassidian can also be integrated into other support platforms. The development and therefore the investments made at Cassidian can thus be used in total to close the capability gap of the armed forces at signals intelligence.”
Asked about the licensing problems of Euro Hawk, he said, “This experience shows how important it is to have full access to technology and information of a system. This also applies to future procurements. Only when certification standards are taken into account during the development of a flight system can future lengthy and costly post-certification be avoided.”
“We naturally have to find answers, what that means for the capabilities of the Bundeswehr in the future,” Beemelmans said. “That means that we will be looking for alternatives. After all, one thing is clear. The mission module, which should be carried by the Euro Hawk, should make the signal detection first class and we want to continue to use.”
The Euro Hawk system is a modified version of Northrop’s Global Hawk, with European partner EADS the local partner. Germany has already spent more than €500 million (US $649.1 million) on a prototype, which was delivered in 2011, with another €500 million earmarked for four more of the ISR platforms.
Albrecht Müller contribute to this report from Bonn.