US Northrop Grumman has won a contract from German defense ministry to deliver high-altitude MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance planes after 2025, replacing the Euro Hawk program.
The decision of Germany's defense minister still must be approved by parliament, Reuters reported today.
The plan calls for Germany to buy the new aircraft from the US Navy, which awarded Northrop a contract to design the unmanned aircraft in April 2008. Sensors for the new aircraft are to be built by Airbus, as planned under the previous program, the officials said.
Experts do not expect to run into any problems winning aviation approval for the new aircraft. The aircraft is launched from land and is programmed to fly autonomously as high as 60,000 feet to gather a wide array of intelligence data.
The new drones will replace the Euro Hawk program, which Berlin canceled in May 2013 after it became clear that it could cost up to 600 million euros to get the system approved for use in civil airspace.
Northrop developed the Triton, a marine-based variant of its initial Global Hawk surveillance drone, for the US Navy. The aviation approval for Triton would be less costly because it was incorporated from the start of the program, Ministry officials said.