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RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk - Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS)

In November 1995, the Conference of NATO Armaments Directors (CNAD) decided that NATO should acquire an Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) capability. The NATO Conference of National Armaments Directors met in its biannual plenary session in Brussels, Belgium on Nov. 6, 1997. The principle issue addressed by the CNAD was the acquisition strategy for Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS). The CNAD considered a report by a steering committee and the completed NATO staff requirement for AGS and reaffirmed the intention of the nations to find a successful way to support an earlier decision made by the NATO Ministers of Defense. That decision was to pursue a minimum essential NATO-owned and operated core AGS capability supplemented by national assets.

There were four major candidate systems being looked at for the NATO AGS capability. They are the US Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), the UK Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR), the Italian Complesso Eliportato per La Sorveglianza (CRESO) and the French Helicoptere d'Observation Radar et d'Investigation sur Zone (HORIZON). Each of these consists of an airborne sensor platform and a ground station. These are connected through medium to high bandwidth data links in order to transmit the data to the ground and service requests to the airborne platforms.

The United States had proposed an early payer offer which would have fully funded the Joint STARS program in 1998 and would have provided the preponderance of the 1999 funding. This would have provided the NATO Alliance with an AGS capability as early as the year 2000. The CNAD was unable to reach a consensus on this offer--largely due to economic considerations--and the United States therefore withdrew its proposal. Consequently, the CNAD has decided to initiate an intensive search for fresh concepts and acquisition options, to be considered at its Spring 1998 meeting.

The new SOSTAR (Stand-Off Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar) system, a strategic-tactical, air-supported ground surveillance system for combat zone monitoring and target assignment will be implemented within the scope of the AGS programme. The main objective is to develop and provide operational proof of a multifunctional reconnaissance radar of the newest generation with the SOSTAR-X demonstrator.

The Cooperative Transatlantic AGS System (CTAS), led by Raytheon Co., Siemens and AMS, recommended the General Atomics Predator B. CTAS offered the Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) Bombardier Global Express business jet. The CTAS consortium, led by Raytheon Company, Siemens and AMS, included industrial participation by 27 companies from all 19 NATO nations. The Bombardier Global Express aircraft was recommended in the CTAS study report to be the primary platform for the NATO AGS solution.

The Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution (TIPS) is a transatlantic industrial response to provide NATO with an AGS core capability that meets NATO's staff requirements, is consistent with the North Atlantic Council's and Conference of National Armament Directors' decisions and supports NATO's transformational capabilities objectives. On 16 April 2004 the NATO Conference of National Armaments Directors endorsed an earlier decision of the Alliance Ground Surveillance Steering Committee to move forward expeditiously towards the signing of a contract, by Spring 2005, with the Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution (TIPS) consortium.

The objective of TIPS is to respond to the mandate issued at the September 2002 Reinforced meeting of the North Atlantic Council by providing NATO with an affordable, six-aircraft fleet. It will provide the minimum essential NATO-owned and -operated AGS core capability by 2010. This core capability could be complemented by an array of fully interoperable NATO member nations owned surveillance assets, including helicopters and manned/unmanned air vehicles.

The TIPS system-of-systems approach centers on a mixed-fleet approach based on the Transatlantic Cooperative AGS Radar, integrated onboard a manned A321 midsize aircraft and a High-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicle. The TIPS team represents a watershed approach to trans-Atlantic industrial cooperation and technology sharing, capitalizing on technology developed in North America and Europe.

The TIPS approach features a government-to-government cooperatively developed active electronically scanned array radar sensor, a watershed event in industrial cooperation and technology sharing, by capitalizing on technology developed in both the U.S. Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) and Europe's Stand-off Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar (SOSTAR-X) technology demonstrator program in which Thales, EADS, FIAR, a Galileo Avionica Company, Indra and Dutch Space are cooperating.

The TIPS offer features a unique mixed fleet approach based on a manned mid-size aircraft working in close cooperation with a High Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicle (HALE UAV), both equipped with the Transatlantic Cooperative AGS Radar (TCAR). The mid-sized jet platform is critical to support effective wide area surveillance and battle management because it offers long on-station time, in-flight refueling and accommodates a mission-flexible crew complement with growth potential for future capabilities.

The inclusion of a HALE UAV leads to more flexibility of the AGS systems with any future scenario that might occur during pre-crisis and crisis operations. The two platforms compliment each other and enhance the overall ISR capability significantly. the Northrop Grumman has made the high-altitude long-endurance RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV (uninhabited air vehicle) part of the Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution's mixed-fleet proposal for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance requirement.

The NATO AGS system will provide situational awareness through a shared common ground picture that will be available to NATO and national decision makers. TIPS presents the alliance with a core component for the NATO response force, providing a critical capability designed to meet its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and command and control requirements for the 21st century.

In May 2004, following a competitive Project Definition Study, CNAD endorsed the Trans-Atlantic Industrial Proposed Solution (TIPS) consortium's selection as the program of record to enter the Design and Development Phase and directed that the TCAR sensor development project be integrated into the AGS program. In November 2005, the Risk Reduction Study (RRS) was completed, providing the Nations a higher degree of confidence in six areas of concern: program management; harmonization with other pending NATO aircraft programs; interoperability with existing national systems; compatibility with the NATO intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architecture; integration of the TCAR sensor; and affordability.

In April 2006, CNAD approved release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to industry for the Design and Development (D&D) phase, including a mixed fleet (manned and unmanned) and development of at least one radar for either, with a total procurement Not to Exceed of €3.3B (Base Year Euros equivalent to $5.4B Then Year dollars). In October 2006, AGS Industries (AGSI, former TIPS consortium) formally submitted a proposal compliant with the RFP. CNAD agreed that the proposal, as submitted by AGSI, would form the basis for negotiations of the D&D contract and tasked the AGS Support Staff (AGS3) to begin negotiations with AGSI.

In May 2007, Contract negotiations with AGSI were completed. Total value of the D&D contract was €545M (Then Year Euros equivalent to $763M Then Year dollars) for the system design activity (to be funded by all participating nations) plus €385M (Then Year Euros equivalent to $539M Then Year dollars) for the radar development activity (to be funded by six nations, including the U.S.). The period of performance was 31 months after award and the contract prices were valid until December 1, 2007.

In July 2007, at an Extra-ordinary CSC meeting, Canada, France, Germany, and The Netherlands indicated they could not support the Program of Record due to affordability. The CSC recommended ceasing work on the Program of Record in favor of a UAV only capability based on an Off-The-Shelf Global Hawk (OTS-GH) equipped with the U.S. Multi-Platform Radar Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. This capability was previously endorsed by the user, Supreme Headquarters Allied Command Europe (SHAPE).

On 20 December 2015 the first of five NATO Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) conducted a successful first flight in California on Saturday (19 December). Taking off from Palmdale Airbase, NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) UAV aircraft successfully soared to 40,000 feet before landing at Edwards Air Force Base 2.5 hours later.

These NATO Global Hawks will be the first Alliance-owned and operated Aircraft since NATO purchased a number of AWACs aircraft in the early 1980s. NATO is developing its own ground surveillance capability with significant contributions from 15 Allies (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States). The Core System consists of air, ground and support segments. The Unmanned Air Vehicles will be piloted from the AGS main operating base in Sigonella, Italy.

Like the Block 40 RQ-4 Global Hawk, the unmanned aircraft has the ability to fly for up to 30 hours at a time. The high-altitude, long-endurance system will perform all-weather, persistent wide-area terrestrial and maritime surveillance in near real-time. The NATO-owned and operated system will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to support a range of NATO missions such as protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control, maritime safety and humanitarian assistance.

The aircraft is equipped with leading-edge technology, including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program sensor. The MP-RTIP sensor will provide critical data to commanders during operations, in any weather, day or night. Utilizing the MP-RTIP sensor, the NATO AGS system will be able to fuse sensor data, continuously detect and track moving objects and provide imagery of selected objects.

In February 2021 Northrop Grumman Corporation’s RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk enabled NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force to achieve a declaration of initial operating capability (IOC) from Supreme Allied Commander Europe, giving NATO commanders the ability to perform uninterrupted in-theater operations 24/7/365. The RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk variant provides cutting-edge intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in support of global security.

“NATO AGS will help the Alliance with persistent regional defense and deterrence,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. “The commitment of the entire AGS team partnership – both government and industry – has shown incredible dedication, working across cultures, time zones and languages, all aiming toward one goal – providing the Alliance with this critical capability.”

The NATO AGS system is comprised of five aircraft, ground and support segments, along with advanced sensor technologies. The Phoenix aircraft has met the rigorous standards required for the first large unmanned aerial vehicle – military type certification and approved by the Italian Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA). Companies from across NATO member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus and Kongsberg, comprise the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that developed the NATO AGS capability.

The wide area surveillance of the RQ-4D Global Hawk and the fixed, mobile and transportable ground stations will support a full range of missions, including protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control, crisis management and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters. The platform’s high-altitude, long-endurance capability delivers sustained, uninterrupted in-theater operations providing an unprecedented amount of ISR data to the Alliance. With the state-of-the-art main operating base at the Italian Air Base, Sigonella, Italy, data can be rapidly disseminated to allied forces, providing an unmatched advantage.

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Page last modified: 09-11-2021 16:53:51 ZULU