Production has begun on an enhanced version of the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Block 40 Global Hawk, intended for use by NATO for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, Northrop Grumman said Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Jim Edge, general manager for the NATO AGS Management Agency, addresses employees and guests during a ceremony to commemorate the start of the first NATO AGS aircraft. The first NATO AGS aircraft started production on Dec. 3 at Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss. Photo, courtesy of Northrop Grumman.
Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center is manufacturing five NATO ASG Global Hawk aircraft at its facility in Moss Point, Miss. The NATO variant of the Global Hawk has a maximum operating altitude of up to 60,000 feet with endurance to perform missions for more than 30 hours. NATO will use the system to improve its joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
"The variety of sensors and ability to support a wide range of missions will revolutionize how NATO collects ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance]," said Jim Edge, general manager, NATO AGS Management Agency. "It was an honor to witness the start of production for the first NATO aircraft, and I'm excited at being one step closer to delivering the AGS system."
Northrop received the prime contract to develop the system in May 2012 during the NATO Summit.
Acquisition of the system by NATO includes 15 participating nations including the United States, Germany, Italy and Poland. EADS Deutschland GmbH (Cassidian), Selex ES and Kongsberg, and several other aerospace and defense companies are part of the industry team developing the AGS system.
NATO will also use the aircraft to provide maritime situational awareness with both military and civil military missions as well as humanitarian relief operations. The NATO AGS system is equipped with data links to enable both line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight operations.
One of its missions will be to provide constant airborne ground surveillance to the NATO Alliance.