Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
29 June 2010
EUR€1.0 billion (USD$1.1 billion)
Origin: United States of America
Airbus Group 50% and Northrop Grumman 50%
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Description: The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities all over the world. The RQ-4 program was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) by Northrop Grumman in the 1990s and will eventually replace the venerable U-2 manned reconnaissance aircraft. The program started as an advanced concept technology demonstrator (ACTD) in 1995 with the aim to deliver an all-weather, day/night, wide-area surveillance system. The first aircraft was delivered to the USAF in November 2001 to support the Global War on Terror (GWOT) with the RQ-4 system reaching full operational capability by 2012. USAF plans call for the procurement of 77 aircraft (cut down to 66 aircraft in 2011) with the US Navy to procure an undisclosed number of RQ-4Ns beginning in 2014. Germany is the first export customer with five Euro Hawks on order.
The Global Hawk system consists of the RQ-4 air vehicle; mission control element (MCE) with two workstations for a pilot and a sensor operator crew; launch and recovery element (LRE) also operated by pilot with his workstation acting as the cockpit; a wide variety of sensors; command and control links covering health and status of the aircraft, sensors, navigational systems and communication links; support element; and trained personnel. The Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) sensors include synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and medium-wave infrared sensors, and active electronically scanned array radar. The system offers a wide variety of employment options. The long range and endurance of this system allow tremendous flexibility in meeting mission requirements. In the United States Department of Defense (DoD) parlance 'R' refers to Reconnaissance and 'Q' refers to unmanned aircraft system.
Euro Hawk builds upon the RQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk high altitude, long endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and it is being developed to meet the surveillance and reconnaissance needs of the German Armed Forces. In 2003, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) identified Euro Hawk as the potential replacement for the Breguet Atlantic aircraft fleet by 2010. On November 3, 2005, Northrop-Grumman and EADS founded EuroHawk GmbH 50/50 joint venture based in Immenstaad, Germany, for the development, manufacture and sustainment of Euro Hawk.
EADS will supply the aircraft's SIGINT mission system and the ground control station while Northrop-Grumman will supply the airframe. The SIGINT payload allows detection of radar emitters (ELINT) and communications emitters (COMINT). Euro Hawk features a wingspan larger than an Airbus A320 airliner, an operational ceiling of 20,000 meters and a flight endurance of over 30 hours. The Euro Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has a top speed of 555 kilometer-per-hour.
The German government signed the Euro Hawk risk reduction contract in autumn 2006. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and series production approval are expected by 2009. On February 1, 2007, the German Ministry of Defense awarded EuroHawk GmbH a 430 million Euro contract for the development, test and support of the Euro Hawk unmanned signals intelligence (SIGINT) system. The first demonstrator system was scheduled for delivery to the Luftwaffe in 2010. Thereafter, four Euro Hawks would be delivered between 2011 and 2014.
On May 14, 2013, the German government cancelled the 1 billion Euro unmanned Euro Hawk program due to the high cost of flying them over European airspace. The program cancellation cost is estimated at 250 million Euro. One aircraft already delivered will be retained for testing.
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