Nov. 12 (UPI) -- NATO received the fifth and last NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance aircraft in its fleet at the Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy, this week.
According to NATO, the RQ-4D aircraft took off from Palmdale Air Force base in California Wednesday night and landed at Sigonella Thursday afternoon.
"I am proud of the NATO AGS Force and of the entire AGS team. The arrival of the fifth and final Phoenix Aircraft here in Sigonella is a landmark achievement for everyone. We have accomplished a tremendous amount of training and preparation already and we are looking forward to continue our hard work with the new and final aircraft. Along with our Italian hosts, SHAPE, NATO nations and industry we will continue expanding our infrastructure and capabilities in the coming months. We remain committed to advancing this important capability to the benefit of the entire Alliance", said NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell.
NATO"S AGS capability is a custom-made system designed to be shared with the entire alliance of 30 member nations.
The NATO AGS Management Agency and the Italian Airworthiness Authorities will now wrap up the required documentation and hand-over the system to the NATO AGS Force over the course of the next few months.
The first of the five aircraft in the fleet landed in Sigonella in November 2019.
"Roughly speaking one year after the first ferry flight, the landing of the fifth NATO AGS RQ-4D aircraft completes the Ferry Flight of AGS air segment. No doubt, there is significant work ahead of us, but all of us here at NAGSMA are now focused on moving the Programme forward and handing over the AGS system to the NATO AGS Force. I am proud to be the General Manager of such a highly motivated, international team here at NAGSMA - it's all about their teamwork and their commitment beyond expectations", said Brigadier General Volker Samanns, the General Manager of the Agency.