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NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance System (AGS) has achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC). This important milestone was announced by the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Tod Wolters, on 15 February 2021.

In November 2020, the fifth and final Northrop Grumman RQ-4D PHOENIX UAV landed at the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) Main Operating Base (MOB) in Sigonella, Sicily. The base will be fully developed with all facilities by 2022 and Full Operational Capability (FOC) is to be achieved by 2025. By then, 550 personnel from the 15 NATO countries supporting the system will be working there.

The AGS capability will enable NATO to sustain surveillance over vast areas from aircraft operating at high altitudes and for long periods of time, over long distances and in all weather and light conditions. Using advanced radar sensors, these systems will continuously detect and track moving objects and provide radar images of areas of interest and stationary objects. All 30 NATO countries will have access to the information they generate.

NATO’s AGS capability is being procured by the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency on behalf of 15 Allies. When the assets are handed over, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency will assume responsibility for the life-cycle management of the AGS fleet.

The aircraft are remotely controlled from the AGS MOB in Sigonella and fly predominantly in NATO or international airspace. Since the first training and familiarisation flight in June 2020, numerous missions have taken place, successfully collecting air surveillance data that proves the platform’s performance for NATO.

Gerhard Heiming