Posted by John McHalePALMDALE, Calif., 3 July 2010. The Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS), built by Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) and EADS Defence & Security, completed its first flight. Based on the Block 20 Global Hawk, Euro Hawk will be equipped with a new signals intelligence (SIGINT) mission system developed by EADS Defence & Security, providing standoff capability to detect electronic and communications emitters. A UAS ground station consisting of a mission control and launch and recovery elements will be provided by Northrop Grumman. EADS Defence & Security will also provide a SIGINT ground station, which will receive and analyze the data from Euro Hawk as part of an integrated system solution."The Euro Hawk marks the first international configuration of the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAS, and strengthens Northrop Grumman's first trans-Atlantic cooperation with Germany and EADS Defence & Security," says Duke Dufresne, sector vice president and general manager of the Strike and Surveillance Systems Division for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "This is a wonderful start for the Euro Hawk's flight test program, and a great testament to the Northrop Grumman and EADS Defence & Security team who worked diligently to make it happen."The German Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract in January 2007 to EuroHawk GmbH for the development, test, and support of the Euro Hawk SIGINT surveillance and reconnaissance system. Under this contract, EuroHawk GmbH will also provide aircraft modifications, mission control, and launch and recovery ground segments, flight test, and logistics support."Formed as a 50-50 joint venture company by Northrop Grumman and EADS Defence & Security, EuroHawk GmbH acts as the national prime contractor for the German MoD throughout the lifecycle of the Euro Hawk system," says Neset Tuekenmez, chief executive officer of the EuroHawk GmbH. "This partnership is an excellent example in international relations for both companies, ensuring Euro Hawk is a continued success story in the history of trans-Atlantic cooperation."With a wingspan larger than a commercial airliner, endurance of 30 hours, and a maximum altitude of more than 60,000 feet, Euro Hawk is an interoperable, modular, and cost-effective replacement to the aging fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft, which have been in service since 1972 and will be retired in 2010, Northrop Grumman officials say. Subsequent systems are anticipated for delivery between 2016 and 2017 following successful testing and introduction in German operational service.