Northrop Grumman has unveiled the first Nato alliance ground surveillance (AGS) aircraft during a ceremony at its facility in Palmdale, California, US.
The aircraft is a wide area surveillance Global Hawk, and is a part of a broader system of systems solution that will advance the alliance's evolving joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements during Nato missions.
Missions include protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control and maritime safety, counter terrorism operations, as well as crisis management, and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters.
Nato AGS management organisation (NAGSMO) chairman Erling Wang said: "This marks a significant step forward in achieving Nato's goal of acquiring Nato-owned and operated AGS core capability.
"What you see here today is the result of one of the commitments made at the 2012 Nato Summit, to bring this advanced and critical persistent ISR capability to the alliance to help ensure we can continue to address the range of challenges our member and other allied nations face."
Nato AGS Management Agency general manager Jim Edge said: "We are establishing the necessary ground stations, command and control systems, as well as training and logistics support services at the Nato AGS main operating base at Sigonella Air Base in Italy."
AGS is a 15-nation programme, which aims to provide ground, maritime, and air commanders with persistent ISR data using five RQ-4 Global Hawks, mobile ground command and control vehicles, as well as related command and control base stations to support military, and humanitarian missions.
Scheduled to be operational between 2017 and 2018, the AGS will be acquired by 15 allies, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the US.
Northrop's primary industrial team includes Airbus Defence and Space, Selex and Kongsberg, as well as leading defence companies from all participating countries.
Image: Nato officials and industry team representatives unveiled the first Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in Palmdale, California, US. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.