EADS Sees Use for Euro Hawk Spy Drone Gear After German Retreat

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. said equipment developed for five high-flying spy drones can find other uses after the German government said it would abort the 508 million-euro ($661 million) Euro Hawk project.

No more will be spent on Euro Hawk after the 250 million euro already allocated, German Defense Ministry spokesman Stefan Paris said today in Berlin. The government will not buy four more drones beyond the one already built, he said.

The decision to scrap the purchase leaves the German military with a shortfall after retiring the Breguet Atlantic spy plane the Euro Hawk was to replace. The German air force has had a long history of operating such equipment throughout the Cold War.

“The Cassidian-developed mission equipment can be integrated on other platforms,” Bernhard Gerwert, the chief executive officer of EADS’s defense unit, said in an e-mailed statement. The development and investment that has taken place can be reused to plug intelligence gathering shortfalls, he said.

Germany will consider pursuing a domestic development effort, Paris said. The project revealed the complexities of buying this kind of equipment from overseas, he said.

To meet U.S. and German security requirements, elements of Euro Hawk work between Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS had to be separated during the development phase. Gerwert said the experience shows the importance of having full information and technology access.

The first Euro Hawk, designed to collect enemy communications and radar signals, first flew in 2010 and logged its initial sensor test flight in January. Gerwert said the first test flights validated the performance of the system.

Euro Hawk is a modified version of the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force, with EADS providing the sensor payload after it teamed up with Northrop in 2000.

The German government previously said it plans to acquire six Global Hawk unmanned aircraft for use in other observation roles.

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