Northrop Grumman has signed a trans-Atlantic multinational contract with the Nato Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) for work on Nato's Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme during the Nato 2012 Summit in Chicago, US.
The $1.7bn (€1.2bn) contract involves the purchase, initial operation and maintenance of five Block 40 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), equipped with multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) advanced ground surveillance radar sensor.
The contract also requires Northrop and its industry partners to develop and supply the transportable ground stations for direct in-theatre support to the deployed force's commanders, mobile ground stations and remote workstations for higher-ranked commands.
NAGSMA programme manager Otfried Wohlleben said the AGS programme has been a major acquisition priority for Nato.
"The real-time long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that this will provide will be invaluable to NATO forces around the world and the success of their missions," Wohlleben added.
The transatlantic multinational contract is expected to support Nato's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements for multinational theatre operations, peacekeeping missions and disaster relief efforts.
As the prime contractor of Nato's AGS programme, Northrop will not only manufacture the Global Hawk UAS but also support systems and payloads, including the MP-RTIP radar.
The primary industrial team includes Cassidian, Selex Galileo and KONGSBERG, ICZ, A.S., ComTrade, BIANOR, Technologica, Zavod Za Telefonna Aparatura (ZTA AD), SELEX ELSAG, Elettra Communications, UTI Systems and SES.
Nato's AGS is a 15-nation programme focused at providing ground, maritime and air commanders with persistent ISR data using RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS and a mission operation support centre at the main operating base in Sigonella, Italy.
The AGS, to be made operational from 2015-2017, will be acquired by 13 allies, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the US.
Image: Northrop Grumman-built Global Hawk UAS for the Nato Alliance Ground Surveillance programme. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.