NORTHROP GRUMMAN and members of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) celebrated an important and much anticipated milestone on December 19, when NATO’s first Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft made its maiden flight. The aircraft took off from Palmdale, California, and successfully executed a comprehensive range of test points before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, also in Califorornia.
Jim Edge, NAGSMA general manager, said: “The NATO AGS aircraft is part of a system that will allow NATO to meet the requirements of emerging situations around the world.” A derivative of the wide-area surveillance Global Hawk, the unmanned aircraft has the ability to fly for up to 30 hours at a time. The high-altitude long-endurance system will perform all-weather, persistent wide-area terrestrial and maritime surveillance in near real-time.
The NATO-owned and operated system will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to support a range of NATO missions such as protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control, maritime safety and humanitarian assistance. The AGS is equipped with leading-edge technology, including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. MP-RTIP will provide critical data to commanders during operations, in any weather, day or night. Utilizing the MP-RTIP sensor, the NATO AGS system will be able to fuse sensor data, continuously detect and track moving objects and provide imagery of selected objects.
NATO AGS aircraft will be based at the Italian Air Force base in Sigonella, Italy. The base is already home to US Air Force-owned Global Hawks. Northrop Grumman will begin ferrying the first NATO AGS aircraft to Italy in 2016. The system is being procured by 15 NATO nations (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States), and includes five aircraft and European-sourced mobile and transportable ground stations. The ground stations will provide data link connectivity, data processing and exploitation capabilities to multiple deployed and non-deployed operational users. Following acquisition, NATO AGS will become a 28 Alliance nation fully-owned and operated NATO capability. Alan Warnes