Jun 20, 2011 By Amy Butler AviationWeek.com
PARIS - Turbulence in the U.S. Global Hawk program is not likely to impact Germany’s plan to buy six variants of the unmanned aerial system (UAS) for intelligence collection, says Stefan Zoller, CEO of Cassidian, EADS’ defense business.
The first Eurohawk, already purchased, is slated to ferry from Edwards AFB, Calif., to Germany this summer for integration with an indigenous signals intelligence collector and for testing. The goal is for the country to buy five additional aircraft; negotiations are not yet complete for those additional UAS. The Pentagon’s buy of RQ-4B Global Hawks has been trimmed by 22 aircraft since the beginning of the year, leaving the buy at 55. Eleven of them are Block 40 aircraft, designed to carry the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance sensor. The Air Force proposed the cut in its Fiscal 2012 budget plan sent to Congress in February.
Last week, Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter directed another 11 aircraft to be cut from the Block 30 buy; this block is designed to carry the Raytheon Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) and Northrop’s Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP).
The first cut prompted a major cost overrun, which the Pentagon declared to Congress in April. It is unclear how much more the per-unit price will increase as a result of the 11 additional Block 30s removed from the program.
Zoller, however, is unconcerned about a major price impact for the German program. The buy of five aircraft is likely to move forward even if there is a per-unit price increase for Germany, he tells Aviation Week. He sees NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance program, originally set at eight and now down to six, as in more jeopardy, Zoller says.
Northrop Grumman has submitted its AGS proposal, and George Guerra, the company’s Global Hawk program manager, says he hopes to wrap up those negotiations by the end of summer.