The fourth remotely piloted aircraft of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force has arrived at the Italian Air Force Base in Sigonella, Italy.
NATO say that the aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, USA, at 18:33 local time on July 25th and landed at Sigonella at 16:20 local time the following day, almost 22 hours later.
The Alliance say that the arrival of the fourth aircraft represents another successful step for NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force. Less than two weeks after the landing of the third RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft, also called ‘Phoenix’, the NATO AGS Force’s fleet of five total aircraft is near completion.
“Having now four out of five NATO AGS aircraft in SIGONELLA demonstrates the commitment and ability of the AGS procuring nations and of NAGSMA to deliver the NATO AGS system while increasing our flexibility in testing the system. It also provides the NATO AGS Force additional equipment for familiarization and training”, said Brigadier General Volker Samanns, the General Manager of the Agency.
“The arrival of the fourth aircraft enhances our capabilities with greater redundancy and flexibility. The NATO AGS Force continues our advance in becoming NATO’s key provider of regional ‘indications and warning’ information to members of the NATO Alliance,” announced NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell.
This latest crossing of the Atlantic from California to Italy was entirely controlled by industry pilots at the Alliance Ground Surveillance Force’s Main Operating Base in Sigonella, in the same manner as the first three ferry flights.
Following arrival, the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency and the Italian Airworthiness Authorities will finalise the required documentation and hand-over the system to the Force as soon as possible.