German aviation and electronic system house ESG has proposed a new Israeli Sigint aircraft as a replacement for Germany’s cancelled Euro Hawk Sigint UAV. ESG displayed a large model of IAI-Elta’s conversion of the Bombardier Global 5000 on its stand at the ILA Berlin airshow this week. The Luftwaffe has been told to evaluate five alternatives to the Euro Hawk, but this is the only one that would abandon development of the Integrated Signals Intelligence System (ISIS) Sigint that Airbus Defence & Space was developing for the Euro Hawk.
The Israeli company has already completed flight tests of its Airborne Integrated Sigint System (AISIS), that was developed for the Israeli air force and installed on Gulfstream Vs, on the larger Global 5000. Gregor Zowierucha, ESG’s program manager, told AIN that the new configuration would be civil-certified by the Israeli authorities in two months. Neither ESG nor IAI-Elta would identify the customer for the Sigint Global 5000, but AIN understand that it is India, for two aircraft. “We have developed a roadmap for EASA certification of the conversion. The Global 5000 is already in service with the German air force as a VIP transport aircraft,” Zowierucha said.
Airbus D & S contends that the sunk cost of developing the ISIS for the Euro Hawk—about €500 million—can be salvaged by installing it on another platform. The alternatives under investigation are another UAV; a business jet; an airliner; and even the Triton, the maritime surveillance version of the Global Hawk from which Northrop Grumman developed the Euro Hawk.
But Zowierucha told AIN that adapting ISIS would be a “high-risk solution.” He noted that the Sigint suite had flown seven times on the Euro Hawk, and development was not complete. Further, he said that the ISIS design is based on a 2004 specification. In the meantime, new signals of interest need to be addressed, and the open architecture of the Israeli system helped to do this, as well as provide assurance to Germany that it would attain sovereign capability with AISIS. “Israel will open all the black boxes,” he told AIN.
A manned platform would be provide more flexibility in operations, he added.