First NATO AGS Remotely Piloted Aircraft Ferries to Main Operating Base in Italy
(Source: NATO; issued Nov. 21, 2019)
The first of five NATO RQ-4D Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) unmanned aircraft lands in Sigonella, Italy on Thursday, November 21, after a 22-hour ferry flight from the Northrop plant in Palmdale, California. (NATO photo)
The first of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft landed in Sigonella, Italy at 16h46 local time on Thursday (21 November 2019), marking an important step in the delivery of the AGS Program.

“I welcome the arrival of the first Alliance Ground Surveillance aircraft in Sigonella. This demonstrates that NATO Allies are committed to modernising the Alliance and investing to deliver key cutting-edge capabilities to the benefit of our shared security”, said the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

The aircraft took off on Wednesday (20 November 2019) from Palmdale Air Base in California, US at 10h00 local time and landed 22 hours later in its new home at the AGS Main Operating Base, according to plan.

The aircraft was received by the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) General Manager Brigadier General Volker Samanns. AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Phillip Stewart and other senior officials were also present.

The first AGS ferry flight from the United States to Italy marks the implementation of a key multinational project for the procurement of state-of-the art equipment. AGS is being developed with significant contributions from 15 Allies - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States.

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.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) unmanned aircraft are derived from the US Air Force’s Northrop Grumman RQ-4D Global Hawk Block 40.
Their main operating base at Sigonella is located on the eastern coast of Sicily.
The first NATO AGS aircraft was rolled out five years ago, on June 4, 2014, and made its first flight on Dec. 29, 2015.
The next step in the standing up process is the System Level Performance Verification (SLPV) which will include the entire AGS system, Air and Ground Segments, followed by the handover of the complete system to the NATO AGS Force (NAGSF).
Before Final Acceptance of the Integrated NATO AGS Core System, Airbus is contributing significantly to preparations for the AGS’ successful introduction.
On January 30, 2019, the Initial In-Service Support Frame Contract was signed between the NATO AGS Management Agency (NAGSMA) and Airbus, to provide sustainment.
Following Handover, Airbus will perform recurring initial in-service support over a 15-month period, which serves as the reference for the long-term ISS (In Service Support) to be managed by NAGSMA's partner agency, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), within the NATO AGS Life-Cycle Management Framework.
The recurring IISS services contract is worth €5.5 million, with an additional €1 million for the initial spares.)


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NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Aircraft Completes Successful Ferry Flight
(Source: Northrop Grumman; issued Nov. 21, 2019)
SIGONELLA AIR BASE, Italy --- Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully ferried the first of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft, via a non-stop, 22-hour transatlantic flight. The aircraft took off on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from Palmdale, California and landed approximately 22 hours later on Nov. 21 at Sigonella Air Base, Sigonella, Italy.

“Northrop Grumman is proud to support NATO in its mission to protect and defend global security, while maintaining a position of collective deterrence for the Alliance,” said Brian Chappel, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. “NATO missions will be enhanced by the strategic surveillance capability NATO AGS provides.”

The NATO AGS RQ-4D aircraft is based on the U.S. Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. It has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements and will provide NATO state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. This includes protecting ground troops, civilian populations and international borders in peacetime, times of conflict and for humanitarian missions during natural disasters.

Aircraft, ground and support segments, along with advanced sensor technologies including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program radar, comprise the NATO AGS system.

The NATO AGS aircraft has met the rigorous standards required for the first large unmanned aerial vehicle, military type certification, approved by the Italian Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA).

Companies from across NATO’s member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus and Kongsberg, comprise the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that developed the NATO AGS capability.


Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide.

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