On Monday, the Headquarters Allied Air Command press release said that the fourth remotely piloted aircraft of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force arrived at the Italian Air Force Base in Sigonella, Italy.
The RQ-4D Phoenix aircraft took off from Palmdale, CA, USA, at 18:33 local time on July 25 and landed at Sigonella at 16:20 local time the following day, almost 22 hours later.
The arrival of the fourth aircraft represents another successful step for NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force. Less than two weeks after the landing of the third RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft, also called “Phoenix”, the NATO AGS Force’s fleet of five total aircraft is near completion.
“The arrival of the fourth aircraft enhances our capabilities with greater redundancy and flexibility. The NATO AGS Force continues our advance in becoming NATO’s key provider of regional ‘indications and warning’ information to members of the NATO Alliance,” announced NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell.
This latest crossing of the Atlantic from California to Italy was entirely controlled by industry pilots at the Alliance Ground Surveillance Force’s Main Operating Base in Sigonella, in the same manner as the first three ferry flights. Following arrival, the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency and the Italian Airworthiness Authorities will finalize the required documentation and hand-over the system to the Force as soon as possible.
The NATO RQ-4D aircraft is based on the U.S. Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. It has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements and will provide NATO state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.