Germany Canceled $2.5 Billion MQ-4C Triton Drones Deal With U.S.

Germany Canceled $2.5 Billion MQ-4C Triton Drones Deal With U.S.
Two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles are seen on the tarmac at a Northrop Grumman test facility in Palmdale, Calif. Triton is undergoing flight testing as an unmanned maritime surveillance vehicle. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Chad Slattery/Released)

According to Defence News,  The German government has canceled plans to buy Northrop Grumman-made Triton drones to the tune of $2.5 billion, opting instead for manned planes carrying eavesdropping sensors.

Instead of unmanned planes Germany to buy Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft because the officials think that the Global Hawk derivatives would be unable to meet the safety standards needed for flying through European airspace by 2025, a target date for Berlin’s NATO obligations.

The State Department agency that approved the sale said at the time the deal would “support legitimate national security requirements” and “close a crucial capability gap” between the U.S. and its NATO allies.

The decision to buy Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft comes after officials became convinced that the Global Hawk derivatives would be unable to meet the safety standards needed for flying through European airspace by 2025, a target date for Berlin’s NATO obligations.

The U.S. State Department in April 2018 cleared Germany’s request to purchase four MQ-4C Triton drones for signals intelligence missions under the country’s PEGASUS program, short for “Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System.” The program includes a sensor, dubbed “ISIS-ZB” and made by Hensoldt, for intercepting communications and locating targets by their electromagnetic signature.

Developed during the last decade at an estimated program cost of more than $12 billion, the Triton is the next generation of U.S. high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The drone, working with a ground control station, is designed to patrol vast swaths of oceans and coastal regions.

The U.S. Navy is the primary customer for the Triton, with plans to buy as many as 68 drones, but contractors often can boost profitability by selling systems developed for the U.S. government to allied nations. Australia and India have been mentioned as potential buyers, but Germany was the firmest expression of interest.

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