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.

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