The first of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4D Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for NATO arrived at the type's future operating base in Italy on 20 November.
The Global Hawk aircraft for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme touched down at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella after a 22-hour flight from Palmdale Air Base in California. 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.
The aircraft's arrival marked a major milestone in the alliance programme to provide member nations with a persistent and near real-time, all-weather, wide-area terrestrial and maritime surveillance system. This system will be used in support of a range of missions, such as the protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control, maritime safety, and humanitarian assistance.
AGS is being developed with significant contributions from 15 alliance members - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United States. As noted by NATO, it will be collectively owned and operated by all NATO states, all members having access to data acquired by AGS.
For its AGS role, the Global Hawk Block 40 UAV is fitted with Northrop Grumman's Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) radar (designated AN/ZPY-2 in US Air Force service), which is an X-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) sensor with ground moving target indicator (GMTI), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), air track, concurrent moving target indication, cued search, and ground high-resolution radar modes. In addition to the Global Hawks, the AGS capability comprises European-sourced mobile and transportable ground stations to provide datalink connectivity, data processing, and exploitation capabilities to multiple deployed and non-deployed operational users.
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