Towards supplying NATO’s premier and long-standing contract for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system, Northrop Grumman has submitted a formal proposal. The award is expected sometime in October 2010. Northrop already supplies NATO AGS at its facility in Melbourne, Florida. EADS, General Dynamics Canada, Kongsberg and Selex Galileo are part of an industrial team comprising over 25 firms representing the 15 countries partaking in the AGS program.
Subsequent to these nations signing a memorandum of understanding in September 2009, the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) was established to oversee the purchase of the NATO AGS capability and later own and operate the system once it reaches its maximum operational level.
The sector vice president of the Battle Management & Engagement Systems business division of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Pat McMahon expressed his pride in spearheading the industrial team to participate in the NATO program. He stated that the program exemplifies the importance of transatlantic cooperation towards combating today’s security issues. McMahon explained that the program allows advanced air and ground capabilities of major defense industries to leverage the existing investments of various country governments in time-tested, field-operation systems for the betterment of NATO.
McMahon expects the cooperation to result in a cost effective and practical program that will equip NATO with the latest fielded capacity to meet its immediate intelligence, investigation and surveillance requirements to safeguard its forces. Northrop has based the air segment offered in the proposal on the Block 40 version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. This high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft, which will be designed to perform mission-critical operations for NATO, will incorporate portable and mobile ground stations and an operation support center of international standards, at the key base of NATO’s Sigonella operations in Italy.
Northrop plans to install the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) on the NATO air vehicle for sensing and following object movement across the areas of observation. The MP-RTIP is a ground surveillance radar sensor that will also be capable of imaging stationary objects and target locations. The ground surveillance system is equipped to interoperate with the systems of various countries using a network-enabled methodology for the purpose of executing the complete range of NATO programs, during both peace and crisis times. All components of the system, which is amenable to being redeployed in other programs, will be manufactured in Europe. The system is capable of directing concurrent data, target identification and intelligence to ground commanders both within and without the line of sight.
The AGS system is designed to serve as a crucial element of the NATO Response Force, imparting awareness on the ground situation to decision makers at NATO and the alliance countries. This information is expected to enable the countries and the alliance to respond to individual situations and be adequately forewarned about the location of security dangers, in places such as Afghanistan and potential out-of-area operations. The AGS system rides on the performance capability of the Global Hawk aircraft, which has clocked over 40,000 hours of flight at a maximum altitude of 60,000 feet for over 32 hours at a stretch. This altitude is way above the commercial airspace.
NATO’s program will signify the first time the Global Hawk Block 40 version will be sold to a foreign market.