AGS is made up of five aircraft, plus the supporting ground facilities and sensors. It will operate from the Sigonella Air Base in Italy, and it will be tasked with deploying drones in support of ground troops and civilian populations, border control, crisis management and humanitarian assistance.
“NATO AGS will help the Alliance with persistent regional defense and deterrence,” said in a statement Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman.
“The commitment of the entire AGS team partnership – both government and industry – has shown incredible dedication, working across cultures, time zones and languages, all aiming toward one goal – providing the Alliance with this critical capability.”
The RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk first flew in 1998. It is powered by a Rolls-Royce turbofan engine that can take it to speed of 357 mph (575 kph). The thing can go for extreme distances in a single outing, as its range is rated at 10,112 miles (16,113 km), being capable of staying in the air 32 hours at a time.
Because it is a surveillance aircraft, it lacks strike capabilities, but can aid other military hardware by helping with targeting.