German defence company Rheinmetall has announced that it will deliver 20 LUNA NG (New Generation) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Ukrainian armed forces. The contract, worth 25 million euros, was signed in July 2023 and includes training, spare parts and technical support.
The LUNA NG is a tactical reconnaissance drone that can perform intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition (ISTAR) missions. It has a wingspan of 4.17 meters, a maximum take-off weight of 40 kilograms and a payload capacity of 10 kilograms. It can fly for up to six hours at a speed of 120 kilometres per hour and a range of 100 kilometres. It can operate in day and night conditions and transmit real-time imagery and data to a ground control station.
The LUNA NG is an upgraded version of the LUNA system that has been in service with the German army since 2000. The new generation features improved aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics and communication systems. It also has a modular design that allows for the integration of different sensors and payloads, such as electro-optical/infrared cameras, laser rangefinders, synthetic aperture radars and electronic warfare equipment.
The delivery of the LUNA NG drones to Ukraine is part of a broader cooperation between Rheinmetall and the Ukrainian defence industry. In 2022, Rheinmetall signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukroboronprom, the state-owned defence conglomerate, to establish a joint venture for the production and maintenance of armoured vehicles, artillery systems and ammunition in Ukraine. Rheinmetall also provides training and simulation solutions to the Ukrainian military.