The fifth and last NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft arrived at the AGS Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy this week.

The arrival of the RQ-4D aircraft at its home base in Europe represents a new milestone in the NATO AGS Programme, completing the NATO AGS fleet.

The aircraft took off from Palmdale Air Force Base in California, United States at 18:04 local time on 11 November 2020 and landed at Sigonella at 13:41 local time the following day, almost 20 hours later.

I am proud of the NATO AGS Force and of the entire AGS team. The arrival of the fifth and final Phoenix Aircraft here in Sigonella is a landmark achievement for everyone. We have accomplished a tremendous amount of training and preparation already and we are looking forward to continue our hard work with the new and final aircraft.  Along with our Italian hosts, SHAPE, NATO nations and industry we will continue expanding our infrastructure and capabilities in the coming months. We remain committed to advancing this important capability to the benefit of the entire Alliance”, said NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell.

Procuring the Alliance Ground Surveillance System is the responsibility of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA).

Roughly speaking one year after the first ferry flight, the landing of the fifth NATO AGS RQ-4D aircraft completes the Ferry Flight of AGS air segment. No doubt, there is significant work ahead of us, but all of us here at NAGSMA are now focused on moving the Programme forward and handing over the AGS system to the NATO AGS Force. I am proud to be the General Manager of such a highly motivated, international team here at NAGSMA – it’s all about their teamwork and their commitment beyond expectations”, said Brigadier General Volker Samanns, the General Manager of the Agency.

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Does the uk have access to these drones?

Daniele Mandelli

I’d guess all NATO nations have access to their take.

I’m more interested in how they were funded and whether MoD contributes into a NATO fund or something?


NATO could have funded the conversation Prince of wales into cats and traps for a nato ship on the lines of what France and Germany are thinking about.

Supportive Bloke

The issue is that we want it to be a sovereign capability. the cat’n’traps argument is getting quite tired. We are where we are which is orders of magnitude better than the Incincible/Harrier ever were. Yes, it is more capable but it would costs fortunes more to run. The real cost is in carrier qualifying a pilot. Think of adding a zero to pilot training costs for F35C as opposed to F35B. The AAR argument is a real one but there will be a TiltRotor drone based AAR solution before long – Bell are working on it. If we go… Read more »


On the subject of ‘Q-4s’, the first MQ-4C for the RAAF has recently started its journey on the NG production line:

Three have been funded, three are awaiting funding and a possible seventh is an option. Looking forward to seeing them operate alongside the P-8A fleet.