Rheinmetall, a German defence contractor, has been awarded a contract by the German Bundeswehr to supply a fleet of 13 LUNA NG air-supported reconnaissance drones, enhancing the country’s military reconnaissance capabilities.

The contract, valued at over €200m, marks the advancement of Germany’s military capabilities, focusing on real-time reconnaissance and unmanned aerial systems.

This agreement follows an amendment contract signed on 28 September, 2023, facilitated by Annette Lehnigk-Emden, the President of Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).

The contract solidifies Rheinmetall’s role as the new contractor for the LUNA NG project following the insolvency of the original manufacturer. The takeover contract was initially sealed in 2022.

The LUNA NG, which translates to “air-supported unmanned short-range reconnaissance Equipment, next generation” in German, will be known within the Bundeswehr as HUSAR (high-efficiency unmanned system for medium-range reconnaissance).

The contract encompasses the production of twelve systems along with a pilot system. In addition to the drones, the order includes essential components such as spare parts and training support.

Designed to meet the dynamic demands of modern warfare, the HUSAR drones will serve both the German Army’s reconnaissance branch and the artillery. Each system comprises five reconnaissance drones, two ground control systems, two launcher vehicles, two antenna masts, a repair shop, and three transport platforms.

The importance of improving the readiness and strength of the Bundeswehr has been brought into the spotlight following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with conventional warfare once more the focus of policymakers, according to GlobalData’s “German Defense Market 2022-2027” report. 

The LUNA NG, developed with lessons learned from conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, provides real-time reconnaissance, object classification, and identification. Ordered for Ukraine as part of an extensive military aid package initiated by the German Government in July 2023, Rheinmetall has committed to supplying the LUNA NG reconnaissance UAS to Ukraine before the end of 2023.  

The LUNA NG has a maximum take-off weight of 110kg. Rheinmetall claims that the LUNA NG is aerodynamic, ultralight, and has a high-stability design; the LUNA NG can remain airborne for more than 12 hours, ensuring continuous surveillance and intelligence gathering.

The LUNA NG is a sensor component for network-enabled operations, enhancing the efficiency of the sensor-to-shooter chain. The first production system is slated for delivery in the second quarter of 2025, marking the commencement of a new drone to support German military reconnaissance.