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For the first time, NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) has deployed their Mobile General Ground Station (MGGS) to Germany, marking the first time it has been deployed outside Italy. This was done to test NAGSF’s expeditionary capability to exploit the data collected by the RQ-4D Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operated under the Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme.

NATO Allied Air Command announced that the MGGS exploitation station was moved by road from its location in Sigonella, Sicily to NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) in Ramstein. The MGGS, supplied by Airbus Defence and Space, has an exploitation component in which the radar images provided by the AGS drones are analysed and stored, and a communications component with which the evaluated surveillance and reconnaissance data are distributed to NATO command elements.

To receive radar imagery from NATO’s Global Hawk UAVs, as well as reconnaissance data from various data providers, the MGGS has direct and satellite broadband connectivity. This includes various NATO and US networks to connect with multiple users outside the surveillance area.

All components are mobile with all-terrain trucks and trailers, some in 6 m (20 ft) ISO containers. After the system was set up, the team of 24 personnel worked to provide more than a week of results from reconnaissance flights along NATO’s eastern flank with the Global Hawk RQ-4Ds and tracked their operation.

“This is an excellent demonstration of NAGSF’s ability to deploy a mobile evaluation element. I am impressed with the team’s ability to connect with the RQ-4Ds in flight and to exploit the data collected and make it available on the ground,” said AIRCOM COS Maj. Gen. Gianluca Ercolani. “From our operational perspective, this mission is a great help to NATO’s procedures for collecting, processing and distributing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance results within our organization and with allies — even from a remote location,” he added.

According to the Allied Air Command, the NATO AGS unit operates five unmanned Global Hawk RQ-4Ds from the force’s main operating base at Sigonella Air Base, Italy. There, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data is collected, processed and disseminated to all allies. The ground segment, he said, consists of multiple ground stations in fixed, mobile and transportable configurations capable of providing data links, data processing, analysis functions and interfaces for interoperability.