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Northrop Grumman unveils first NATO ISR aircraft

Northrop Grumman rolls out its Global Hawk for NATO ground surveillance program.

By Richard Tomkins
Northrop Grumman's first Global Hawk for NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance project. Northrop Grumman photo.
Northrop Grumman's first Global Hawk for NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance project. Northrop Grumman photo.

PALMDALE, Calif., June 4 (UPI) -- NATO's first Alliance Ground Surveillance aircraft to expand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities has been unveiled in California.

The AGS aircraft is Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk, a wide-area long-endurance unmanned aerial system for use in a variety of ISR missions, including troop support, border security and crisis management.

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"This marks a significant step forward in achieving NATO's goal of acquiring NATO-owned and operated AGS Core Capability," said Erling Wang, chairman of the NATO AGS Management Organization, or NAGSMO. "What you see here today [Thursday] 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."

The NATO AGS program calls for five air vehicles and fixed, mobile and transportable ground stations. Northrop Grumman's primary industrial team includes Airbus Defense and Space of Germany, Selex ES of Italy and Norway's Kongsberg.

Leading defense companies from other alliance countries are also involved in long-term support for the AGS program.

"We are establishing the necessary ground stations, command and control systems, and training and logistics support services at the NATO AGS main operating base at Sigonella Air Base in Italy," said Jim Edge, general manager of the NATO AGS Management Agency.

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The Global Hawk has a flight endurance of as much as 30 hours and is equipped with leading-edge technology, including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program sensor, which provides critical data to commanders.

"The level of collaboration required to bring together successfully so many international partners in the development of this tremendous system of systems capability for NATO speaks to the commitment and strength of the trans-Atlantic relationships we have built with our key partners, to deliver what is truly a European program," said Janis Pamiljans, sector vice president and general manager, unmanned systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

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