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The NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance System (AGS) is operational with Initial Operating Capability (IOC). The Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, General Tod Wolters, announced this important milestone on February 15, 2021.

In November 2020, the fifth and last unmanned aerial vehicle of the type RQ-4D Phoenix from Northrop Grumman landed on the Main Operating Base (MOB) of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) in Sigonella / Sicily. The base with all systems is to be fully expanded by 2022. Full operational readiness is to be achieved by 2025. Then 550 employees from the 15 NATO countries that support the system will work there.

The AGS capability enables the alliance to permanently monitor large areas from aircraft with high altitudes and long flight times that operate over long distances and in all weather and light conditions. Using advanced radar sensors, these systems will continuously detect and track moving objects and provide radar images of areas of interest and stationary objects. All 30 NATO countries will have access to the information they generate.

The NATO reconnaissance and surveillance system is procured by the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) on behalf of 15 alliance partners. With the handover of the systems, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) takes on responsibility for the life cycle management of the AGS fleet.

The aircraft are remotely controlled from the AGS Main Operating Base (MOB) in Sigonella and mostly fly in NATO or international airspace. Since the first training and instruction flight in June 2020, numerous missions have taken place, during which air surveillance data were successfully collected, which prove the platform's capabilities for NATO.

Gerhard Heiming