Euro-Hawk Takes Off!

Germany's first Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft, built by Northrop Grumman and EADS Defence & Security, approaching landing on its maiden flight June 29, 2010. The Euro Hawk landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where it will undergo a final series of operational testing and evaluation prior to its ferry flight to Germany. Photo: Northrop Grumman

The Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS), built by Northrop Grumman Corporation and EADS Defence & Security, successfully completed its first flight June 29. The high-flying aircraft took off at approximately 10:32 a.m. PDT from Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility and climbed to 32,000 feet over Palmdale’s desert skies before landing nearly two hours later at 12:24 p.m. PDT at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The German Ministry of Defense awarded a contract in January 2007 to EuroHawk GmbH a 50-50 joint venture company by Northrop Grumman and EADS Defence & Security, for the development, test and support of the Euro Hawk SIGINT surveillance and reconnaissance system.

Based on the Block 20 Global Hawk, Euro Hawk will be equipped with new signals intelligence (SIGINT) mission system developed by EADS, providing standoff capability to detect electronic and communications emitters. A ground station consisting of a mission control and launch and recovery elements will be provided by Northrop Grumman. EADS Defence & Security will also provide a SIGINT ground station, which will receive and analyze the data from Euro Hawk as part of an integrated system solution.

The Euro Hawk has a mission endurance of 30 hours and a maximum altitude of more than 60,000 feet. It is an interoperable, modular and cost-effective replacement to the aging fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft, which have been in service since 1972 and will be retired in 2010. Subsequent systems are anticipated for delivery between 2016 and 2017 following successful testing and introduction in German operational service.