The German Air Force's plans to field the Northrop Grumman RQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle is proceeding to plan with a procurement contract expected to be signed late next year, a senior service official said on 24 October.
Speaking at the SMi Airborne ISR conference in London, Lieutenant Colonel Roland Runge, Deputy Commander Tactical Air Wing 51, said the Luftwaffe's latest effort to field an unmanned signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability is on track for a contract in late 2019 ahead of a planned entry-into-service in the mid-2020s.
"Following the cancellation of the Euro Hawk programme in 2013, the Triton was chosen as the next airborne SIGINT platform. A contract signing is expected next year, and things are looking pretty positive right now," Lt Col Runge said.
Germany's procurement of the Triton system was approved by the US government in April. The sale, which is valued at USD2.5 billion, covers four Triton UAVs that have been modified to an undisclosed German configuration, as well as one mission-control station (MCS) comprising one main operating base (MD-3A) and one forward operating base (MD-3B). Other equipment and support is also provided.
Formerly known as Broad-Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D), the US Navy's Triton programme is a HALE platform based on the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aircraft system (UAS). As noted by Lt Col Runge, the Luftwaffe is to rename its Triton platforms Pegasus, which stands for Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System.
The Triton was one of the main programmes featured in the inaugural Air Capability Strategy Paper that was released by the German Department of Defence in January 2016. Other unmanned programmes included the Airbus-IAI Heron TP and the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) remotely piloted air system (RPAS) being developed by Airbus, Dassault, and Leonardo.
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