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 Dec 18 2019

International Journalists Visit NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Italy

For the first time a group of international journalists had the opportunity to learn about the activities of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force at the Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy. They were briefed by system operators across the spectrum of all nations and ranks.

The NATO AGS Force Commander, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Phillip Stewart, and the General Manager of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA), Mr. Volker Samanns, welcomed the journalists and set the scene for the one-day programme.

The indications and warnings provided by this cutting-edge AGS aircraft will help NATO leaders ensure continued peace and security and is a commitment to the collective defense of this precious Alliance.
 

“NATO’s AGS system is the most advanced integrated platform of this kind in the world,” said General Stewart. “It represents a quantum leap forward in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability of NATO as we are not only collecting, preparing and disseminating products to all Allies, but we also have a capability of processing data from other sources even when our RQ-4D Phoenix remotely-piloted aircraft is not flying,” he added. 

The sight of the first of five RQ-4D Phoenix aircraft - that had landed at the Main Operating Base on 21 November 2019 - was the highlight of the press tour. After being updated on aspects of aircraft command and control, training centre, Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination, mobile / transportable ground stations and bridging versus permanent infrastructure, the journalists had ample time to take a closer look at the impressive RQ-4D Phoenix aircraft.

The aircraft is the central element of the NATO AGS system. “What makes it unique is the integration of the remotely piloted aircraft with ground support systems,” explained the General Manager, Mr. Samanns. “The NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Organisation consists of 15 Allies (1). Through NAGSMA they have worked with industry in the United States and Europe to provide an ISR system to all 29 NATO Allies that will be collectively owned and operated by the Alliance,” Mr. Sammans added.

At present a 300-strong international staff is continuing to stand up the NATO AGS Force and will take the project to initial operational capability in the coming months. As the other four RQ-4D Phoenix aircraft will be ferrying into the Main Operating Base at Sigonella, the Force will continue to grow to approximately 600 and gradually move into newly built facilities.

The NATO AGS Force’s mission is to conduct full-spectrum intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations and distribute products in support of all NATO Allies. It is an operational asset of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and comes under operational control of Allied Air Command.

“The indications and warnings provided by this cutting-edge AGS aircraft will help NATO leaders ensure continued peace and security and is a commitment to the collective defense of this precious Alliance," concluded Brigadier General Stewart.

(1) Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States



Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

A RQ-4D Phoenix sits in the NATO AGS Force hangar at the Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy, Photo by Christian Timmig
Media representatives being briefed on the NATO AGS Force infrastructure. Photo by Christian Timmig
A satellite dish for  desktop used to link the Transportable General Ground Station to the NATO AGS RQ-4D Phoenix remotely-piloted aircraft. Photo by Christian Timmig

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