First NATO Surveillance Aircraft Begins Testing

The first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance aircraft, an RQ-4 Global Hawk variant, touched down at Edwards AFB, Calif., on Dec. 19 to begin six months of testing. The “successful initial flight kicks off the program’s flight test program and represents Northrop Grumman’s commitment to advanced airworthy systems for the Alliance,” said Rob Sheehan, NATO AGS deputy program manager for Northrop Grumman, in a company release. “Strong collaboration between the Alliance and industry partners continues to move this extraordinary program forward.” The aircraft will be based in Sigonella, Italy, and operated by a coalition of NATO member countries, according to an Air Force release. Northrop Grumman, along with staff from Edwards Range Control, will conduct ground and airborne testing before the aircraft is delivered in 2016. The total system will feature five aircraft along with European-sourced mobile ground stations. The aircraft will be used for collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security, according to the Air Force. (See Also: All for One in NATO.)