Germany walks away from $2.5 billion purchase of US Navy’s Triton spy drones,

The German government has canceled plans to buy Northrop Grumman-made Triton drones to the tune of $2.5 billion, opting instead for manned planes carrying eavesdropping sensors.

The decision to buy Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft comes after officials became convinced that the Global Hawk derivatives would be unable to meet the safety standards needed for flying through European airspace by 2025, a target date for Berlin’s NATO obligations. A defense ministry spokeswoman told Defense News the Triton option had grown “significantly more expensive” compared with earlier planning assumptions. […]

The German Defence Ministry for years had been banking on the Triton purchase to come with a pre-installed safety-technology package that would be easily approved by European air traffic authorities. But officials saw their hopes dashed as Italy recently issued a military-type certificate for a sister drone — NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance fleet of Global Hawks, stationed in Sigonella, Sicily — that prescribes tight restrictions on flights over the continent. […]

Letting drones fly in the same airspace as civilian traffic remains an unresolved problem, as the requisite sensing technology and the regulatory framework are still emerging. Germany previously tried filling its signals-intelligence gap with the Euro Hawk, but the project tanked in 2013 after spending $700 million because officials underestimated the trickiness of attaining airworthiness qualification. Läs artikel