NATO has declared the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft initially operationally ready to conduct missions.

NATO’s AGS system will provide a unique capability for all 30 Alliance Members, with a platform adapted to meet NATO’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance requirements. This will provide NATO decision-makers with valuable information based on a comprehensive picture of conditions on the ground, at any time.

The AGS capability enables the Alliance to perform persistent surveillance over wide areas from high-altitude long-endurance aircraft, operating at considerable distances and in any weather or light condition. Using advanced radar sensors, these systems will continuously detect and track moving objects and will provide radar imagery of areas of interest and stationary objects. All 30 NATO Allies will have access to the intelligence they generate.

NATO’s AGS capability is a custom-made system procured by the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) on behalf of 15 Allies. Handover of the entire AGS system to the NATO AGS Force commenced in November 2020 and will be completed in the first months of 2021. With the handover of the assets, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) became responsible of the life cycle management of the AGS fleet, providing full logistics support and system engineering to keep the AGS system operationally relevant for the benefit of the 30 Allies.

The aircraft will be piloted remotely from the AGS Main Operating Base in Sigonella Italy, and will mostly fly within NATO airspace or international airspace. On June 4,2020, NATO conducted its first training and familiarisation flight with an RQ-4D Phoenix aircraft, Since then numerous sorties have taken place resulting in the successful collection of air surveillance data proving the capability of the platform for NATO.