Euro-Hawk MoU Signed in Berlin
The German Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on May 16, 2006 establishing the base conditions for U.S./German cooperation on the RQ-4 Global Hawk-derivative “Euro Hawk” UAV. The government-to-government MoU is cited by EADS and Northrop Grumman as a critical step towards the Euro Hawk risk-reduction contract, which is expected in autumn of 2006.
Most Global Hawk UAVs are configured with SAR radars for finding ground targets, plus electro-optical and infrared sensors (see examples of Global Hawk imagery). In November 2003, the Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance UAV completed a series of flight tests in the USA and Germany carrying an EADS electronic intelligence (ELINT) payload.
The “EuroHawk” is being offered to the German Air Force as a replacement signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform, and the idea appears to be catching on with NATO (via its AGS battlefield surveillance project) and in the USA as well. When delivered, they will replace Germany’s aging fleet of specially modified Atlantique ATL1 twin-turboprop SIGINT aircraft.
The EADS-built SIGINT mission system will be the heart of the Euro Hawk’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system, providing stand-off capability to detect radar emitters (ELINT) and communications emitters (COMINT). EADS will also provide the ground stations that will receive and analyze the data from Euro Hawk.
Northrop Grumman and EADS have established a 50-50 joint venture company in order to pursue this program. EuroHawk GmbH is based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and acts as the national prime contractor for the German Ministry of Defence. Northrop Grumman and EADS initiated their transatlantic cooperation in August 2000, followed by a bilateral project agreement between the U.S. Air Force and the German Ministry of Defence signed in October 2001. The first phase of the project included the operation of the HALE UAV concept, the mission system integration, and the above-noted October 2003 flight demonstration program at the German Naval Base in Nordholz. See the Northrop Grumman news release.