Northrop Grumman and Cassidian have conducted the first full system test flight of the Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at Manching Air Base, Germany, demonstrating its systems integration capabilities and technologies.
Equipped with the signals intelligence mission system to detect and collect information from electronic intelligence radar emitters and communications emitters, the UAS flew up to an altitude of 54,000ft within military controlled airspace.
The UAS remained airborne for over six hours and then safely landed back at the air base.
Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector corporate vice president and president Tom Vice said: "Today’s SIGINT sensor flight marks the start of the critical flight test phase of the Euro Hawk payload for the German Bundeswehr."
Following the receipt of final approval from the German Airworthiness Authority for evaluating integrated Sigint payload functionalities, the UAS has also successfully completed extensive ground testing at the base.
EuroHawk chief executive officer Neset Tükenmez said the first sensor flight proved its system capability for safe operation within German air space.
"The Euro Hawk success story continues to unfold and will enable Germany to independently conduct round-the-clock surveillance and reconnaissance," Tükenmez added.
The German Ministry of Defence awarded a contract to Northrop and Cassidian in January 2007 for the joint development, test and support of the full-scale demonstrator of Euro Hawk system.
Based on Northrop’s RQ-4 Global Hawk Hale UAS, the Euro Hawk has an endurance of 30 hours, maximum altitude of more than 60,000ft, and can fly more than 20,000km before needing to refuel.
The system has been designed to replace Germany’s ageing fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft, which were in service from 1972 and officially retired in 2010.
Image: The Euro Hawk UAS takes off for its first signals intelligence sensor test flight. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.