NATO Plans New Drone Spy Force in 2016 to Monitor Mediterranean
23:45 07.10.2015(updated 00:23 08.10.2015)
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that a new NATO drone surveillance force to monitor the alliance's tumultuous southern flank region will be based in the Sigonella Air Base in Italy next year.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A new NATO drone surveillance force to monitor the alliance's tumultuous southern flank region will be based in the Sigonella Air Base in Italy next year, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Wednesday.
'[Carter said] Sigonella next summer will host the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance system,' the Department of Defense News reported.
On Wednesday, Carter was speaking to the media during a joint press conference in Rome with Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, following meetings with her and with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
'The AGS [Alliance Ground Surveillance] consists of five Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft and command-and-control base stations. NATO will operate and maintain the system on behalf of its 28 allies, five of whom acquired the system for the alliance,' the report explained.
The Mediterranean region south of NATO member nations is being rocked by continued civil war in Libya and Syria, the growing threat of the Islamic State and other Islamist forces as well as an unprecedented refugee crisis.
The new drone system 'will provide NATO with transformational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets that will benefit all allies, including those here in the southern flank,' Carter was quoted by the Department of Defense News as saying.
Carter's visit to Italy came during Trident Juncture 2015, the largest NATO exercise in more than a decade, hosted by Italy, Spain and Portugal, the report noted.
The exercise began on October 3 and involves more than 36,000 personnel from 30 NATO and partner nations.
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