BERLIN (Reuters) - German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants to revive the high-altitude reconnaissance drone Euro Hawk after the government backed away from plans to buy some last year, a German newspaper said on Saturday.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) said it had learnt from the defence ministry that it wanted “to get the Euro Hawk drone out of the garage” to be able to test a reconnaissance system for it.
In an advance copy of a report due to be published on Sunday, the newspaper said that was the result of a defence assessment due to be handed to the ministry on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the defence ministry told Reuters she could not comment on such reports but added that the ministry would on Monday receive the assessment it had commissioned and then evaluate it.
Germany backed away last year from its 1.2 billion euro ($1.5 billion) plan to buy four more Euro Hawk drones, which U.S. defence company Northrop Grumman Corp developed with Europe’s Airbus based on the Global Hawk design.
Back then Germany said meeting the standards required to win aviation approval would cost 500 million to 600 million euros. But Northrop remains in long-running talks with the country about the stalled purchase.
FAS said the German armed forces had in recent months tested whether the reconnaissance system could be used on other platforms but had found that they could not be.
It said if tests with the Euro Hawk prototypes proved successful, a carrier would need to be purchased and a new version of the Global Hawk was probably the only system that would be considered. The Euro Hawk is based on the Global Hawk.
German news magazine Spiegel also said the Euro Hawk was under discussion again after consulting firm KPMG recommended in a report due to be presented this week remedying gaps in reconnaissance technology equipment in the armed forces with an ‘unmanned’ aircraft as a carrier.
The magazine cited experts as saying the only possible solution for this in the foreseeable future was the ‘Triton’ drone which is developed by Northrop and is the successor to the Global Hawk.
Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Powell