Germany Evaluates New SIGINT Airframes

Germany has been weighing options for a signals intelligence aircraft since the Eurohawk program was scrapped.

he German military is considering four variants for a new signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft to replace the scrapped Eurohawk UAV project. The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support has come up with manned and unmanned solutions.

An unnamed source in security circles told Defense News that three variants are supposed to carry the new Integrated Signal Intelligence System (ISIS) developed under Airbus, formerly EADS, for the Eurohawk.

These variants could include a medium-range passenger aircraft the size of an Airbus A319, a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV like the Predator, or a business jet the size of a Bombardier Global, the source said.

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German military wants armed drones to back soldiers

A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport, Afghanistan. (File photo)

 Germany’s military elite has called upon the new grand coalition government to purchase armed unmanned aerial vehicles to provide support to German soldiers.

The German Armed Forces Association [Der Deutsche BundeswehrVerband (DBwV)], the German commander of NATO-led forces in the north of Afghanistan, Major General Jorg Vollmer, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Hellmut Konigshaus, have all backed the introduction of the drones to the German military.

Germany’s plans to buy armed drones ran into a snag when former Defense Minister, Thomas de Maziere, poured hundreds of millions of euros in the acquisition of EuroHawk drones to fulfill the country’s requirement to replace their aging Dassault-Breguet Atlantique electronic surveillance aircraft, but the aircraft were not allowed to fly in German airspace.

The EuroHawk drone is a variant of the RQ-4B) surveillance aircraft, with a customized sensor suite. The unmanned aerial vehicle has set an endurance record by flying continuously in the European airspace for 25.3 hours, reaching an altitude of 58,600 feet.

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The Stealthy Barracuda UAV Is Germany’s Future Flying Force

After the end of hostilities in WWII, France and Germany have become surprisingly close. The two nations are stalwart proponents of expanded European Union integration and are regularly referred to as the EU’s “twin engine.” But on the issue of unmanned aerial platform, the two simply cannot agree. So while France and its cohorts are developing the nEUROn, Germany is building the stealth Barracuda.

Development on the EADS Barracuda fully-autonomous, medium-altitude, long-range UAV began in 2003, and is backed by both Germany and Spain. France, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, alternately, have funded the Dassault nEUROn, while the UK has independently forged ahead with the BAE Taranis. Despite crashing during a 2006 test flight, which grounded the project for nearly two years, the Barracuda has since successfully completed more than a dozen test flights.

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Army assures skeptical Germans drones are for training, not spying

Rest assured, drone operator Sgt. Carson Wilson says, he’s not here to spy.

Next week, a Hunter MQ-5B will be soaring high in a newly established air corridor between the Army’s Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels training areas, marking the first time a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle will fly beyond military training grounds.

“When I first came to Germany, we didn’t have anywhere to fly,” said Wilson, a UAV operator assigned to the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade. “We’re here to let people know the camera is only to avoid obstacles, not to watch what people are doing.”

On Tuesday, the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command and the commander of the U.S. Bavaria Military Community hosted an open house at Vilseck’s Rose Barracks, where the Hunter UAV and a host of other smaller unmanned systems were on display. The event, which attracted a gaggle of local German media, was aimed at informing the public about the new UAV mission in the area and dispelling any safety and privacy concerns associated with the mission.

In July, German aviation authorities approved the use of UAVs for training in the greater Grafenwöhr area. While some flights have already begun on training ranges, the Army is now poised to launch flights between training sites. It’s a key milestone for the program, according to JMTC commander Brig. Gen. Walter Piatt.

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euRathlon 2013 land robotics competition – Day Three recap


The sun was shining again on the third day of euRathlon 2013 outdoor robotics competition in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Wednesday was the day for the “Search and rescue in a smoke-filled underground structure” scenario, and the last day of the euRathlon 2013 workshop, where attendees enjoyed presentations by specialists in various areas of robotics. The keynote presentation was given by Shinji Kawatsuma, senior primary engineer of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, who talked about the lessons learned from using robots in the emergency response disaster of Fukushima Daiichi NPP. Following the presentations was a UAV pilot demonstration carried out by the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC).

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Camera drone makes rough landing in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at a camera drone

A camera drone had a rough landing in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel at an election campaign event in Germany after police told its operator to bring down the craft.

Photos from the event in the eastern city of Dresden showed Merkel looking on in amusement as the small orange drone went down on its side about 2 meters (7 feet) in front of where she was sitting.

City police said a 23-year-old man had sent up the drone at the open-air event Sunday in hopes of taking photos that he could then sell. Officers told him to land the drone, which he apparently did in great haste.

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Spectrometers Enable Field Application

Spectrometers Enable Field Application

A pair of super-lightweight miniature spectrometers from Ocean Optics (Netherlands) is helping researchers investigate plant parameters in a verdant patch of New Zealand grassland. The compact STS model spectrometers, one deployed as a ground unit and the other aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), are making synchronised hyperspectral measurements of barley and sugar beet crops to assess plant characteristics for more effective crop management. A multinational team of researchers from Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand developed the UAV-based system and conducted the initial experiments, gathering high-resolution reflectance spectra from the UAV at altitudes of up to 200 meters and irradiance spectra from the ground-based spectrometer. According to team leader Andreas Burkart of the Research Center Jülich IBG-2 Plant Sciences, Germany, collection of hyperspectral data by field spectroscopy is a time-consuming task and often is restricted to easily accessible areas. The small size and weight of the STS spectrometer is ideal for use on the UAV, which allows a series of fast and reproducible measurements over any terrain, even forest or marsh. By measuring various segments across a section of the New Zealand pastureland, the system was able to assess information such as specific plots that contained live vegetation. The STS is a remarkably small CMOS detector-based spectrometer that is less than 2 inches square (40 mm x 42 mm) and weighs a little over 2 ounces (68 g). It performs comparably to larger systems, providing full spectral analysis with low stray light, high signal to noise (>1500:1) and excellent optical resolution. For the application described here, the researchers were able to match the performance of the STS to that of a larger, more expensive commercially available field portable spectrometer, with optical resolution of ~2.5 nm (FWHM). – See more at:

EURO HAWK(R) Sets Record with 25-Hour Nonstop Flight in Germany

NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION LOGO / Northrop Grumman Corporation logo. (PRNewsFoto/Northrop Grumman Corporation)The EURO HAWK(R) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) set an endurance record Aug. 8 when it flew continuously for 25.3 hours in European airspace. Built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), operating through its subsidiary Northrop Grumman ISS International Inc. (NGISSI), and Cassidian (EADS Deutschland GmbH), the UAS climbed to 58,600 feet over Manching Air Base, Germany.
EURO HAWK 25 Hour Flight (thumbnail)“This is the longest flight flown in European skies by an unrefuelled UAS in the more than 30,000-pound [14,600-kilogramme] class,” said Rolf Wirtz, head of Mission Systems, Cassidian’s UAS branch. “The EURO HAWK(R) has performed safely and reliably with good results throughout its entire flight test programme. It is the only system that can meet Germany’s requirement for high-altitude signals intelligence surveillance missions.”With a wingspan greater than most commercial airliners, EURO HAWK(R) can fly at altitudes more than 60,000 feet for more than 30 hours. It can detect radar and communication emitters with its advanced signals intelligence sensors and updated payload software.

On June 6, the EURO HAWK(R) flew over the North Sea for the first time, soaring throughout Germany before returning 6.5 hours later to Manching Air Base.

“To date, the EURO HAWK(R) has completed 19 flights and approximately 200 flight hours,” said Janis Pamiljans, sector vice president and general manager of Unmanned Systems for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “I commend the entire EURO HAWK(R) customer and industry team on achieving this record-breaking flight. We remain committed to delivering the best technology solution at the most affordable cost to meet Germany’s national security interests.”

EURO HAWK(R) is an interoperable, modular and cost-effective replacement to the retired fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft, which was in service from 1972-2010. The flight test phase is currently scheduled through September 2013.

About Cassidian

Cassidian, an EADS company, is a worldwide leader in global security solutions and systems, providing lead system integration and value-added products and services to civil and military customers around the globe: air systems (aircraft and UAS), land, naval and joint systems, intelligence and surveillance, cybersecurity, secure communications, test systems, missiles, and services and support solutions. Please visit for more information.

About EuroHawk GmbH

EuroHawk GmbH, a 50-50 joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Cassidian, serves as the national prime contractor for the German Ministry of Defence through the system’s entire life cycle. Please visit for more information.

About Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit for more information.


European Union Seeks Drone and Spy Satellite Network

After feigning outrage over the US spying on European citizens, the European Union has proposed the creation of what amounts to a pan-European equivalent to the National Security Agency (NSA), armed with a European drone programme and a spy satellite network.


The extent of collusion between the European powers and the NSA in the mass surveillance of EU citizens has already been made apparent by the exposures from whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The PRISM program was developed in collusion with the United Kingdom. Together with the UK’s own Tempora system, PRISM gives full access to the emails, phone calls, social network records and browser histories of millions of people, obtained by tapping into the fibre optic network of the Internet. Germany’s collaboration with the NSA is also extensive, making it a prime European hub for operations in Afghanistan as well as for gathering data on European citizens. France’s independent system of data collection has been exposed, and it must be assumed that every other state has similar operations in place.

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