Das Cart Before the Horse

The investigative committee wants to know how the defense ministry could invest 12 years and hundreds of millions of euros in an aircraft that is not even allowed to fly in German airspace due to security concerns. The German military had ordered four Euro Hawk drones. But right now, only one prototype exists, and it has been grounded in a hangar.

This quotation is from a report that demonstrates serious unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) and drone related concerns in Germany, as does this:

After Germany’s armed forces had spent more than €600 million — or $790 million — on the project, it turned out that the Euro Hawk lacked certain technical capabilities that the Americans were not prepared to share. Furthermore, the drones had not been certified to fly in European civilian or military air space. As this story broke, it became clear that the German military had pursued its drone program with minimum transparency on costs and viability.

An interesting case study about aviation  technology outpacing costs and safety legislation.  The story also illustrates well the conflict within a society about this technology.  There may be some “good” applications for drones (see below), but the technology generally leaves much unease.

All said, this the politically charged story from Germany has some parallel to the F35 program in the United States – grossly out of control costs for an aviation technology not yet deployed.