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.
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.