Northrop Grumman begins production of first NATO Global Hawk
Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NOC) Unmanned Systems Center started production of the first NATO alliance ground surveillance (AGS) Block 40 Global Hawk aircraft, enhanced to meet NATO operational requirements.
NATO representatives, state dignitaries, community leaders and Northrop Grumman employees gathered to celebrate the start of production for the first of five aircraft. The system will provide NATO with unprecedented near real-time terrestrial and maritime situational awareness information throughout the full range of NATO military and civil-military missions, includ- ing peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations. The NATO AGS system will be a major contribution to NATO’s joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
“The variety of sensors and ability to support a wide range of missions will revolutionise how NATO collects ISR,” said Jim Edge, General Manager, NATO AGS Management Agency. “It was an honour to witness the start of production for the first NATO aircraft, and I’m excited at being one step closer to delivering the AGS system.”
The NATO AGS system will be equipped with the multimode multi-platform radar technology insertion (MP-RTIP) airborne ground surveillance radar sensor to provide all-weather, day or night intelligence to the NATO Alliance. The system also includes an extensive suite of network-centric enabled line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight longrange, wide-band data links.
“With the ability to fly up to 60,000 feet and for more than 30 hours, the NATO AGS system is uniquely suited to support NATO missions worldwide,” said Jim Culmo, Vice President, High-Altitude, Long Endurance Enterprise, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support until July 2014.
The Heron RPA has been operating in the Middle East since January 2010, providing ISR support to missions in Uruzgan province and southern Afghanistan. With the end of Australia’s presence in Uruzgan approaching, the Heron detachment will shift focus to support coalition operations in Regional Command South during the final period of transition of security responsibility to Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan elections scheduled for April 5 next year.
“The decision to extend the Heron RPA and its associated systems reflects Australia’s ongoing commitment to Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) through 2014. It is in line with the previously announced training and specialist contributions the ADF and the Australian Government will make in Afghanistan as our mission moves from Uruzgan to the wider Afghan nation,” Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston said.
“Based at Kandahar Air Field, the Heron will provide ISAF’s Regional Command South with a highly capable system over the coming months and continue to enhance the ADF’s unmanned aerial system capability, which has grown significantly during the deployment to Afghanistan of ScanEagle, Shadow 200 and the Heron platforms.”
The Heron RPA is capable of medium altitude long endurance flights, using multiple sensors simultaneously to provide high resolution ISR capabilities.