NATO nations on May 20 signed the procurement contract for the Alliance Ground Surveillance program with the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that will supply the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft and advanced ground-surveillance radar sensors for them, announced the alliance. “The signature of the procurement contract for the AGS system is an important step towards the delivery of this key capability to the alliance,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow in addressing the alliance’s defense ministers at the signing ceremony in Chicago on the margins of the NATO summit. Thirteen NATO members, including the United States, are acquiring five radar-equipped Global Hawks and the associated command and control base stations to provide the alliance with a high-altitude, long-endurance ground-surveillance and reconnaissance capability. AGS is expected to be fully operational in 2017, according to NATO’s release. “The decision to move ahead with the Alliance Ground Surveillance program in today’s difficult economic climate sends a powerful message,” said Vershbow.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.