Germany is looking to offer a secondhand surveillance drone containing cost the nation over 700 million euros ($823 million) to Canada, without many core components it has to fly.
A defense ministry respond to lawmakers through the opposition Left Party states that Germany has decided to “begin concrete negotiations with Canada for your sale with the Euro Hawk aircraft, two ground stations and possibly certain spare parts.”
The government response, dated Sept. 19 and obtained by The Associated Press, adds that Germany isn’t currently in talks with every other country or organization about the sale in the drone.
In a statement Monday, Germany’s defense ministry confirmed talks with Canada were planned, but declined to discuss a prospective sales price or date. Officials with the Canadian Embassy in Berlin weren’t immediately capable of comment.
Germany ordered the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk variant in 2000 to use for long-distance reconnaissance, but later canceled your order due to skyrocketing costs and revelations that this prototype couldn’t survive certified to fly in Europe. Then-Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere acknowledged in 2013 that the drone would have been a write-off, telling lawmakers it turned out easier to have a very “horrible end than the usual horror without end.”
Last year, the federal government acknowledged that this development and procurement of the prototype, a signals-intelligence sensor called “ISIS” and spare parts, and the completion of seven test flights had cost about 681 million euros since 2007. A further 24 million euros were used on getting ready for a resumption of temporary test flights.
According to the federal government’s latest reply to Left Party lawmakers, which was not published yet, the drone is “demilitarized.” This entailed the removing of American-made radio equipment, the GPS receiver and aerials, along with all encryption along with the flight control system. Rather than laboriously delete individual software components, technicians decided to perform “hardware uninstallation”, removing all hard disk drives containing sensitive U.S.-made software.
“The real question is such a buyer would do with such a gutted aircraft,” said Thomas Wiegold, a German journalist who runs the defense website Augen Geradeaus . “Without GPS navigation especially without flight control systems, the drone would hardly be capable to fly.”
Andrej Hunko, one of the Left Party lawmakers who submitted questions to the government, said the drone now just has “scrap value.”
“The sale will therefore recoup at best a tiny portion with the tax money spent,” he was quoted saying. “I expect the loss will figure to hundreds of million euros (dollars).”
Hunko, whose party objects to airborne military surveillance, said the drone’s ground stations might still fetch a niche price.