MONS, Belgium - The arrival of the final NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Phoenix aircraft, on Nov. 12, 2020, at its home base in Sigonella, Italy, marked the next stepping-stone towards achieving Initial Operating Capability for NATO AGS.
The NATO AGS RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft flew from California, United States, and landed at Sigonella almost 20 hours later. This latest addition to the AGS Family completes the inventory of five aircraft and is a significant milestone for the NATO AGS programme.
This latest edition to the AGS inventory means AGS moves one step closer to Initial Operating Capability
NATO's AGS capability is a custom-made system procured by 15 Allies to be shared with the entire Alliance. NATO's AGS system will provide a unique state-of-the-art capability for all 30 Alliance Members, with a platform adapted to meet NATO requirements. It has been specifically designed to meet the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance requirements identified by the North Atlantic Council, and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). This will in turn provide NATO decision-makers with valuable information based on a comprehensive picture of conditions on the ground, at any time.
The fifth and last NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance aircraft arrived at the AGS Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy on Nov. 12, 2020. The arrival of the aircraft at its home base in Europe represents a new milestone in the NATO AGS Programme, completing the NATO AGS fleet. - Photo by NATO AGS
"This arrival of this final platform supports the declaration of Early Operational Capability declared by SACEUR on June 5, 2020. This enabled NATO AGS Force pilots and operators to begin flying NATO AGS aircraft missions, for training and familiarisation purposes. This latest edition to the AGS inventory means AGS moves one step closer to Initial Operating Capability", said SHAPE Strategic Enablement Directorate Commander, Major General Phillip Stewart
The first delivery or "ferry flight", of a NATO AGS aircraft from the United States to Sigonella, took place less than a year ago on Nov. 21, 2019. The arrival of this fifth Phoenix aircraft demonstrates that NATO Allies are investing in key cutting-edge capabilities that are collectively owned and operated by NATO Allies.
"I am proud of the NATO AGS Force and of the entire AGS team. The arrival of the fifth and final Phoenix aircraft here in Sigonella is a landmark achievement for everyone. We have accomplished a tremendous amount of training and preparation already and we are looking forward to continue our hard work with the new and final aircraft," said NATO AGS Force Commander, said Brigadier General Houston Cantwell.
Procuring the AGS System is the responsibility of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency. The entire system will be handed over to the NATO AGS Force once it has completed its testing and performance verification.