The 15 nations participating in NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme have completed the signature process of the Programme Memorandum of Understanding (PMOU). This is a significant step towards realizing this essential operational capability for NATO.
The PMOU, along with the AGS Charter, sets the legal, organisational, and budgetary framework for the AGS programme and launches both the NATO AGS Management Organisation (NAGSMO) and NATO AGS Management Agency (NAGSMA) to take charge of the programme.
Mr. Peter C. W. Flory, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, said: “NATO AGS is an essential asset to increase our situational awareness in support of our Alliance forces across the full range of NATO operations in the future”. NAGSMA General Manager-select, Mr. Bo Leimand stressed that the benefit to NATO’s soldiers in the field will be substantial. NATO AGS will be a key capability providing Alliance political decision-makers and military planners as well as the commanders in theatre with an invaluable tool for gathering information on what is happening on the ground. The AGS capability is anticipated to be available as of 2012. Participation to the programme remains open to other interested Allies.
In January 2009, the North Atlantic Council selected Sigonella Air Base, Italy, as the location for the AGS Main Operating Base that will host the UAVs and the ground segment (flight control capabilities and necessary command and control systems).
The AGS Core capability will consist of an air segment based on the U.S. Block 40 version of the RQ-4B Global Hawk high altitude, long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with the state-of-the-art multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance sensor. The ground segment, which will be developed by Canadian-European industry, will provide data to multiple deployed and non-deployed operational users and is foreseen as an interoperable interface between the AGS Core and a wide range of national and NATO Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems.
The AGS Core will continuously detect and track moving objects throughout the observed areas, as well as providing radar imagery of areas and stationary objects. In September 2008, a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) was released, on the basis of which the AGS Prime Contractor, Northrop Grumman Corporation, identified a transatlantic team made up of industry from the AGS participating nations to provide NATO with this leading edge ISR capability.
The following nations are participating in the AGS acquisition programme: Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United States of America.