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Jun 5 2020

NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Controls First RQ-4D Flight

SIGNONELLA, Italy - NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force conducted their first flight of a NATO RQ-4D “Phoenix” remotely piloted aircraft from Main Operating Base, Sigonella on June 4, 2020.  

“I am proud of the team! They were able to successfully conduct the first mission launching, operating and landing our NATO RQ-4D Phoenix “MAGMA10” today,” said Major General Phillip Stewart, United States Air Force, commander of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF). “For many among the Force and for the whole of NATO, this is a great milestone event opening the chapter for a new and much-needed capability of the Alliance in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance,” he added.

This [flight] is a great milestone event opening the chapter for a new and much-needed capability of the Alliance in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

At 10:26 a.m, the Phoenix taxied onto the main runway at Sigonella Air Base and launched for the first NATO AGS mission, controlled by NATO AGS Force pilots from the NATO AGS Mission Operation Support Centre at Sigonella.

The NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) RQ-4D Phoenix remotely piloted aircraft taking off at the Main Operating Base on the Italian Air Force Base at Sigonella, Italy, for its first flight controlled by NATO AGS Force pilots Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.

During the flight, the Phoenix’s sensors collected Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery and Moving Target Information data which was transferred to the NAGSF Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination centre for near real-time processing, and future distribution to Allies.

Throughout the 9-hour flight, pilots at the NAGSF Operations Centre controlled the aircraft via pre-programmed flight path from takeoff until landing at Sigonella at 7:46 pm.

“Phoenix mission sorties can be more than 20 hours long,” said General Stewart. “Requirements for future real-world missions are requested by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and authorised by the North Atlantic Council; the collected data will be processed at our Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination centre and disseminated to all Allies,” he added.

Story by Public Affairs Office at AIRCOM

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