Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully ferried the fifth NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft, via a non-stop transatlantic flight. The aircraft departed on Wednesday, Nov. 11 from Palmdale, California and landed nearly 20 hours later on Nov. 12 at Sigonella Air Base, Sigonella, Italy.
The air vehicle is the last of five NATO RQ-4D aircraft, thus completing deliveries to the Main Operating Base (MOB) of the NATO AGS system of systems comprised of aircraft, ground and support segments. Work remains to complete Handover of the AGS System to the NATO AGS Force (NAGSF).
“Once the NATO AGS system achieves Handover, NATO Commanders will have greater flexibility and redundancy to support the mission of protecting ground troops, civilian populations and international borders in peacetime and times of conflict as well as humanitarian missions during natural disasters,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman.
The NATO AGS RQ-4D is based on the U.S. Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. The high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned NATO AGS system, which includes the multi-platform radar technology insertion program radar, provides leading-edge intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability that is able to deliver near real-time situational awareness 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Led by Northrop Grumman, the NATO industry team is comprised of companies from across NATO’s member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus, and Kongsberg and other defence companies from all AGS Procuring Nations.
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NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS)
Alliance Ground Surveillance will be collectively owned and operated by all NATO Allies and will be a vital capability for NATO operations and missions. All Allies will have access to data acquired by AGS, and will benefit from the intelligence derived from the surveillance and reconnaissance missions that AGS will undertake.
With its ground elements, AGS is a custom-made system specifically designed to meet the surveillance requirements identified by the North Atlantic Council and SACEUR. The AGS NATO RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft is based on the US Air Force block 40 Global Hawk. It has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements, to provide a state-of-the art Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability to NATO, to the benefit of all NATO Allies.
The NATO AGS program includes five NATO RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft. All five are currently performing different stages of developmental test flights. Once each of the aircraft arrives at the Main Operating Base in Sigonella, a verification phase will start, in order to ensure full compliance of the system. The entire AGS system will be handed over to the NATO AGS Force once it has completed all its testing and performance verification. Initial operational capability is expected for the first half of 2020.
The first aircraft NATO RQ-4D arrived in Italy on November 21, 2019, the second NATO RQ-4D arrived in Sigonella on Decembre 19, 2019, the third NATO RQ-4D arrived in Italy on July 15,2020 and the fourth NATO RQ-4D arrived on July 26, 2020.