Germany "Pulling Plug" on Drone Program to Avoid "a horror without end"

Costs, continental regulations blamed


Julian Herzog/Wikimedia

Germany's defense ministry has "pulled the plug" on its EuroHawk drone program, on which it already spent $655 million and had plans to spend about $645 million more on four additional models.  "Better an end with horror than a horror without end," the Germany's defense minister told parliament. Solid guidance.

Regulatory uncertainty and overregulation in Europe may have played a role in the horror as well. Deutsche Welle TK interviewed a German security analyst who insists it wasn't cost but the regulatory regime that felled the program:

DW: Are high airspace costs the real reason that Germany's Euro Hawk program was canceled?

Christian Mölling: It's not that simple. It has more to do with the fact that this aircraft that was purchased—this drone—has to be integrated into the airspace. That's not just a problem for this drone, but for all drones in Europe. And for that, Europe has no solution. I don't think the costs [of the Euro Hawk program] played a very big role.

But shouldn't they have known about those flight restrictions earlier? Haven't those rules always been there?

Yes, of course, that's something that was known about before. The problem isn't that something new popped up, but a question of new regulations for European airspace—that has been on the agenda for a long, long time. The problem is that you don't only need a purely national solution, but a European solution. Airspace in Europe, and how manned and unmanned aircraft can work together in the future, has to be newly regulated. And that takes time—as everything in Europe takes a bit longer. But it will, like many things in Europe, work at the end of the day, and that's why I still don't understand why the whole program had to be shot down.

It wasn't working for the German defense ministry or for Northup Grumman. From a Flight Daily News article from last September:

The certification process is "probably the biggest challenge in the programme" to field the Northrop RQ-4 Global Hawk derivative, says Jim Kohn, the company's Euro Hawk programme director. "In the US it was a system-level certification, but for Germany it's all the way down to the box level. It's a painfully detailed approach."

Germany's defense minister was also "surprised" at the negative response in February when the government was revealed to be considering purchasing armed drones.

Germany expects budget surpluses this year and next. Others expect it to bail out Europe.

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  1. on which it already spent $655 million and had plans to spend about $645 million more on four additional models

    Germany was only going to spend $1.3 billion on their drone program? America scoffs at their pathetic attempts to rain terror from above.

  2. Why am I getting an ad for Israeli tourism along with this article?

    1. Because Germans are just going to buy off-the-self Israeli drones instead of designing their own?

      Every modern military needs to have drones these days. But paying a billion to redesign an existing drone instead of just buying them didn’t make much sense.

      1. And Global Hawk is the suxXor anyway.

      2. Wouldn’t that be a stunning turn of events. Jew supplying Germans with the means to kill…

      3. Given that their drone program was simply adapting an existing American design I don’t think that was a concern at all

  3. “a horror without end”

    They just walked away?

    1. This thread was over quick.

  4. How will they track down the homeschoolers if they don’t have drones?

      1. They have ways of making people talk.

  5. That’s rather short-sighted. I bet their drone inadequacies leads to them losing the next war with the rest of Europe.

    1. I’m not so sure that it would be an issue. While drones are quite useful in asymetrical warfare situations I think their usefulness would be limited in a traditional war against a technologically advanced opponent as they just have no self defense capabilities.

      It’s one thing to fly a drone through uncontested airspace and fire a missile at a tent, it is something different to fly it through several miles of flak and SAM’s hoping it doesn’t get jumped by an enemy fighter before it gets in range of the target.

      1. Like anything, it’s much easier/cheaper to find a low-tech risky (to the turrists) way to circumvent/destroy expensive tech than to develop said tech and use it to completely cow the troublesome population. If flak cannons aren’t back in style, they will be.

  6. That Drone has rather a Rubinesque figure.

  7. The last five plus years and counting feel like a horror without end.

  8. So they’ll have a drone with legs/wheels/tracks/anti-grav drives? Death by Robot comes in many forms. Use your imagination Boche.
    It appears the only problem, is the crowded air space over euroland … and the over regulation of pretty much everything in eurlandia.

  9. and xkcd drone humor:

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