RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk Drones Now Part of the NATO AGS Force

Faster than some would have suspected, drones are changing the way wars are fought and history is written. Ever since the U.S. launched the first armed drone strike in 2001, these machines have been a constant presence on the battlefields across the world, and things will probably get even more intense.
Northrop Grumman RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk 1 photo
Photo: NATO
For instance, Northrop Grumman announced earlier this month it has received an initial operating capability (IOC) declaration from Supreme Allied Commander Europe for the RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk drone. The machine will become part of the so-called NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) force after it became the first large drone to get the military type certification from the Italian Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA).

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.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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