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Airbus offers SIGINT add-on for German Heron TP UAS

Airbus is providing the German armed forces with a Heron TP capability that it now proposes to upgrade with a SIGINT package. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Airbus Defence and Space (DS) has outlined a signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability option for the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) provided to the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) under a service-level agreement.

Addressing the Association of Old Crows (AOC) Europe 2023 conference in Bonn on 16 May, Stefan Loebel, responsible for sales and business development in Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, said that the company was pitching an off-the-shelf IAI Elta SIGINT solution as a potential extension to its existing scope of delivery. Such a capability could fill a SIGINT gap prior to the arrival of the new Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System (Pegasus) capability in 2027.

Airbus and Germany's Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) signed an operator agreement for the Heron TP UAS service provision in June 2018. Intended to bridge the gap between the retirement of the earlier Heron 1 UAS service and the introduction of the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (EuroMALE) UAS, the contract includes the provision of five IAI Heron TP air vehicles, four ground segments, training, and operations/support services out to 2027.

The Heron TP was awarded a type certificate by the German Military Aviation Authority in late 2022. The certification confirms compliance with the STANAG 4671 military airworthiness standard, and makes the Heron TP the first UAS in service with the Bundeswehr to fully comply with an internationally agreed airworthiness code.

β€œWe see a signals intelligence capability gap,” Loebel told AOC Europe. β€œWhat we are proposing is a market-available SIGINT/electronic surveillance (ES) package for Heron TP already at Technology Readiness Level 9.”

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