The first of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4D Global Hawk NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) unmanned aircraft has been delivered to its main operating base at Sigonella in Italy.
The aircraft ferried from Palmdale in California to Sigonella in a non-stop 22 hour flight, landing on the afternoon of November 21.
“I welcome the arrival of the first Alliance Ground Surveillance aircraft in Sigonella,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. “This demonstrates that NATO Allies are committed to modernising the Alliance and investing to deliver key cutting-edge capabilities to the benefit of our shared security.”
The RQ-4D is based on the USAF’s RQ-4B Block 40 and is fitted with the same multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance radar, but differs in that other sensors, communications and the ground control segment are primarily of European origin. The project is being managed by NATO on behalf of 15 contributing nations – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the US.
Initial operational capability (IOC) of the RQ-4D at Sigonella is scheduled for the first half of 2020.