CATANIA --- The inauguration ceremony for NATO "Alliance Ground Surveillance" (AGS) system has taken place this morning at Sigonella Airport, in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Undersecretary of state for Defence Giulio Calvisi. The development of the AGS programme is conducted jointly by 15 allies: Italy, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourgh, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and United States. A vital element for NATO missions and operations.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Italy and the Ministry of Defence, as well as Sigonella Air Base Commanders: "I have just met some excellent pilots, technicians and data analysts from many different Allied nations who will deliver this important effort. It has taken time and effort to deliver the system. But this has helped us develop our aircraft certification process, with the outstanding support of the Italian defence ministry. So today, NATO is filling an important intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability gap".
The system meets the Alliance's requirement to equip itself with its own operational capability - exclusively for territorial surveillance- based on radar technology The programme provides for the procurement of 5 Global Hawk surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Control equipment will be produced at Sigonella Air Base.
"An opportunity for technological development for the Defence industry", Undersecretary Calvisi stated. "Today we inaugurate a system with a high-level technology content, – he added - the missing link between a satellite and a reconnaissance aircraft. An important innovative element. An ambitious programme, from a scientific and industrial point of view, developed over a long time. As a country, we have always believed in the AGS programme: that's why we are the third contributing country in financial terms, and we host the systems in Sigonella, providing also infrastructural, logistic and technical support".
The ceremony was also attended by the Chairman of NATO Military Committee, Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and Supreme Commander Allied Force Europe, Gen. Tod Wolters.