Germany Abandons $2.5 Billion Purchase of US Triton Drones

Berlin’s Federal Ministry of Defense has opted to purchase three Bombardier Global 6000 jets and abandon its plan to buy four US-made MQ-4C Triton aerial surveillance drones.

Germany announced Tuesday that after months of deliberation, the ministry of defense has decided to forego its initial efforts to install a new reconnaissance system on Northrop Grumman’s Triton drones and will instead fix the eavesdropping sensors to Canadian firm Bombardier’s manned Global 6000 jets, according to the Associated Press.

While Germany had initially planned for the Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System (PEGASUS) to be installed on the drones, recent financing headaches combined with concerns over European airspace regulations have led to the plan’s undoing.

A spokeswoman with the ministry told Defense News that the estimated $2.5 billion Triton option, which was approved by the US State Department in April 2018, had grown “significantly more expensive” when compared to earlier assumptions and would not be delivered until 2025.

Additionally, opting for a manned aircraft provides Berlin with the ability to not worry about meeting European Aviation Safety Agency guidelines concerning the safety of operating unmanned aircraft alongside conventional air traffic.

Germany previously ran into a similar issue during its Euro Hawk project, which intended to acquire five RQ-4 Global Hawk derivatives but was ultimately scrapped in May 2013 due to cost concerns and the certification process regarding European airspace.

Germany’s announcement comes shortly after the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet issued a Monday press release confirming two MQ-4C Tritons had arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam the night prior. According to the service, the UAVs will assist other intelligence assets, such as the P-8A Poseidon and P-3 Orion, in maritime patrol and reconnaissance efforts in the Western Pacific.

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