First NATO Global Hawk Arrives in Sigonella, Italy

The first of five NATO Global Hawk Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft landed in Sigonella, Italy at 1646 hours local time on Nov. 21, 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 Nov. 20 from Palmdale Air Base in California, US at 1000 hours 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 U.S. Air Force block 40 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft. It has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements, to provide a state-of-the-art Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) 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.

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