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27 mai 2013 1 27 /05 /mai /2013 18:50
EuroHawk GmbH, Northrop Grumman and EADS Statement on the Euro Hawk Program



EuroHawk GmbH, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and EADS have released the following statement on the Euro Hawk program:


    "EuroHawk GmbH, Northrop Grumman and EADS remain fully committed to the Euro Hawk program of record, and the critical capabilities the system will provide the German armed forces and its allies.


    "The full Euro Hawk system, including the mission control system and the sensor, has performed flawlessly and safely throughout the entire flight test program.


    "Media reports that indicate there are challenges with the aircraft's flight control system, as well as excessive costs associated with completing airworthiness certification, are inaccurate.


    "EuroHawk GmbH will continue to work with the customer to address any concerns they may have with the system; and the team will provide an affordable and achievable plan to complete flight testing of the initial asset and the eventual production and fielding of the full system of four additional aircraft."


Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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27 mai 2013 1 27 /05 /mai /2013 18:20
NATO’s Global Hawks Unaffected by EuroHawk

May 24, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; published May 24, 2013)


NATO Drone Project Set to Continue


Pulling the plug on Germany's Euro Hawk project won't have consequences for NATO's surveillance program using "Global Hawk" models. But critics argue a joint European drone project would have been better.


The canceled German Euro Hawk drone project will most likely not have consequences on a similar project by NATO. The alliance plans to use five drones of the Global Hawk Block 40 type for its "Alliance Ground Surveillance" (AGS) system.


According to NATO, plans will not be affected by the German decision. The Global Hawk drone built by US company Northrop Grumman is basically the version the system's based on - the Euro Hawk drone Germany ordered is a modified version of the Global Hawk 20 model, an earlier version of the Global Hawk 40 which NATO now plans to use.


Exact images from far away


At the May 2012 summit in Chicago, the allies had agreed on aquiring unarmed surveillance drones. They are scheduled to be used by 2017 and to be stationed in Sicily. Estimates put the cost for the five drones at around 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).


Fourteen NATO states are involved: Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and the US. The Global Hawk drone could fly as high as 20 kilometers (12 miles) and is able to take clear pictures of the ground even from such heights - precise enough to still spot individuals.


No European project?


The NATO project is going to continue despite the German decision to halt its program. But the situation in Germany has been met with criticism in Brussels. Michael Gahler, security spokesman of the conservative European People's Party (EPP) in the EU parliament, told DW that Germany should rather have pushed for a European solution than trying to go it alone.


After all, European countries were facing the same security threats, and every state had too little money to develop a system on its own.


"Such projects are very good examples of how such things can be done in a joint effort - especially when something new is being developed. I hope that everybody will learn from that mistake," he said.


Gahler believes a European project would have made more sense from an economic perspective as well.


"You can't see this simply as a military issue. Those drones are first and foremost not a means of fighting." In about 90 percent of the cases, they would "be used in a civilian manner for surveillance," for instance in agriculture or forestry in order to spot pollution or fires. With that many areas of use, "it really makes sense to bundle civilian and military resources."


Northrop Grumman dismisses criticism


The US company producing the drones has come forward to defend itself against German complaints. Berlin had criticized an allegedly missing feature to avoid collisions and lacking documentation needed for getting the drones approved for European airspace.



A Northrop Grumman spokesperson told German weekly "Die Zeit" that Germany had in fact never specified what kind of papers were needed for approval and that it was only a prototype that operated without collision protection. That feature would have been implemented in the four other drones Germany had ordered, the company said.

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27 mai 2013 1 27 /05 /mai /2013 17:50
Euro Hawk décollage de la BA De de Manching 11.01.2013 photo EADS - CAssidian

Euro Hawk décollage de la BA De de Manching 11.01.2013 photo EADS - CAssidian

May 27, 2013 defense-unmanned.com

(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; published May 25, 2013)


De Maiziere's Euro Hawk Problems Drone On


Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere says there were clear grounds for Germany to cancel orders for the Euro Hawk drones. But as questions mount, some say the minister's arguments don't hold up.



What did German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere know about the Euro Hawk problems? And why did he choose to stop the project? As the debate on Germany's decision to cancel its drone program drags on, more and more questions are coming to the fore.


The minister initially stated he would not make a public statement before June 5 when the Defense Ministry's report was due to be published. But now, in an interview with German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, he said he - as the minister in charge - was responsible for what went wrong despite the fact that he hadn't been informed of all the details concerning the project.


"With dimensions like this, it's impossible," he said. "You have to keep in mind that we spend more than 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) on planned purchases each year."


He also dismissed criticism as to why he didn't put on the brakes on the Euro Hawk project sooner saying, "If we were to pull the plug on every complicated purchase every time there is a problem we wouldn't have any defense projects at all."


Will the defense minister's arguments hold?


According to Michael Brzoska, professor at the University of Hamburg's Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, de Maiziere's claims are hardly convincing. It was nothing new that a drone of Euro Hawk size would require approval to be used in German airspace.


"It would have been reasonable to check this more thoroughly," Brzoska told DW. "Apparently authorities had simply hoped for the best - and then failed."


The defense minister's own defense was also problematic when it comes to addressing the issue that ultimately led to axing the project. The argumentation seemed to make sense at first: The drone lacked a collision protection system it would require for approval to operate in German airspace. Costs would have skyrocketed if this feature would have been added on so the entire project was stopped.


However, Global Hawk manufacturer Northrop Grumman has dismissed such claims - the US company went on to say that it had not yet officially been told that the German government had cancelled its order. The only source of information was media reports, company spokesman Tim Painter said.


"The reports we've read in the media are in fact baseless claims," he said. In principle, all Hawk models had been equipped with the necessary technology, but the models that had been delivered to Germany so far did not include that bit of hardware - as explicitly requested by German officials.


However, all necessary slots are there which makes it quite easy to expand the drones. "It would be as easy as plugging a CD changer into the trunk of your car if your car was prewired for a CD changer," Painter explained.


The German Defense Ministry has claimed additional costs of 500 million euros ($647 million) would have been necessary to upgrade the drones. That figure is by far too high, according to Northrop Grumman, but the company refused to give an estimate based on its own calculations.


Missing features and data


As the German Defense Ministry's reasons for canceling the Euro Hawk project don't make sense for the US manufacturer - are they simply excuses? Brzoska said that might be the case since there are Euro Hawk models that do possess this collision protection system. And it would not be difficult to add this feature to models that have been operating without it so far.


"But you'll need data that the US manufacturer doesn't like to share since it affects the drone's control system - that's very likely the problematic issue here," Brzoska said. "From a US standpoint, it's considered a secret. That's why it wasn't so easy to combine this collision protection system with transforming [the Global Hawk] into the Euro Hawk."


But the missing anti-collision system is only one of many problems in regards to the drone. Even if one were to find a solution, Brzoska said he doubts the Euro Hawk will get approved to operate in shared airspace frequented by normal air carriers in Germany.


"Other issues concern secure data transmission: Can you control the drone over a long period of time, or isn't there the danger of losing them," Brzoska added. "That could be a risk not only for civilian aviation, but also for [people on the ground] if they were to crash."


No easy feat for German defense ministers


It's no surprise to Brzoska that the defense minister's bright career has been tarnished. Some of his predecessor had to deal with troubled defense projects as well.


"Such projects are always very complex and come with several problems," Brzoska said. "And then it's the minister of course who has to take responsibility, even if he might not have been informed in depth."

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