NATO officials expect to sign the long-awaited contract to provide an Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS) capability within the next three months. Northrop Grumman will provide five Global Hawk Block 40 UAVs, while a consortium of European companies that includes EADS Cassidian and Selex Galileo will provide transportable and mobile ground stations. Initial operating capability (IOC) is slated for 2017-18.
Bogdan Horvat, executive officer of the NATO AGS Management Agency (Nagsma), told the Airborne ISR Conference organized by Defence IQ in London that the capability that AGS provides would have been a valuable contribution to last year’s NATO Operation Unified Protector over Libya. He noted that 13 NATO nations are collectively acquiring AGS, but all 28 NATO members will help to fund the operations and sustainment costs. Since the signing of a program MoU in September 2009, and the submission by industry of a proposal in March 2010, Canada and Denmark have withdrawn from AGS. Earlier, 19 NATO nations had committed to AGS.
Scott Hulet, Nagsma technical manager, said that the AGS contract will be let on the basis of a firm, fixed price. Industry will also commit to responsibility for total system performance. The UAVs will carry the same advanced MP-RTIP radar as U.S. Air Force Block 40 Global Hawks, with the potential addition of some maritime radar modes. The UAVs will also include some enhancements from the U.S. Navy Bams version of the Global Hawk, such as an airborne data management system and wideband datalink communication interfaces.