Following the arrival of the first Global 6000 business jet at its facility in Wichita, Kansas, Bombardier Defense revealed on November 28 that work to modify the aircraft into a signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform for the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) has begun in support of Lufthansa Technik and the Hensoldt-led Pegasus programme.
Bombardier Defense will perform major structural modifications to three Global 6000s, allowing them to accommodate Hensoldt’s Kalætron Integral SIGINT system – which collects and analyses military signals from both radars and radios – before delivering them to Lufthansa Technik’s Special Mission Aircraft Competence Centre in Hamburg, Germany, where the system will be integrated onto each aircraft. The delivery of this first Global 6000 is a major milestone for Germany’s Pegasus programme, which aims to deliver a SIGINT platform to the Luftwaffe, as it marks the transition from the engineering phase to design mission-specific solutions to the aircraft modification phase.
Jürgen Halder, vice president of Air SIGINT at Hensoldt, said: “With the immense progress made in the design work over the last 12 months, we are proud to see the Pegasus project entering the next stage. Together with our partners Bombardier Defense and Lufthansa Technik, we are determined to maintain the swift pace established to answer the pressing need of our customer for strategic surveillance capabilities.”
Germany’s first Pegasus platform – officially known as the Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System – is slated to enter operational service in 2026, with deliveries scheduled to conclude in 2028. The arrival of the Pegasus will plug a Luftwaffe capability gap, which was created with the retirement of the air arm’s previous SIGINT-gathering platform, which was based on a modified Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft, in 2010. Berlin initially intended to replace these aircraft with five Northrop Grumman RQ-4E EuroHawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – equipped with a SIGINT payload developed by EADS – but this plan was scrapped by Germany in May 2013.