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AGS, NATO's super drone

(BRUSSELS2 at NATO headquarters) The Brussels meeting of NATO Defense Ministers was an opportunity for the Allies to decide on the establishment of the system called AGS as Alliance Ground Surveillance, making it possible to improve aerial surveillance and reconnaissance capability. An instrument " essential for future operations » as an Alliance official points out.

One of the Alliance's largest infrastructure projects

The AGS will consist of 5 HALE drones (High altitude, long distance) RQ-4B Global Hawk, commanded from the Sigonello air base. There will be concentrated the means of reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence (JISR) as well as the data exploitation training center (Nb: A sort of compensation for the Italians who will lose one of the headquarters).

This system will be financed by 13 of the 28 members of the Alliance who will contribute to the pot (United States, Germany and Italy, for the main countries (*) French and British will not participate directly in financing the system. " We will offer material contribution » explained Gérard Longuet. These are acquisition and surveillance devices, produced by French drones. The British will use the same method of contribution. “ It's a bit like the Awacs system – specified to B2 an expert on the file – The French and British have their own Awacs capacity which they make available to the Alliance. » As for Spain, it will only finance up to its general share in the Alliance.

The total cost of the operation is expected to be 4 billion $, who are " one of the most expensive programs ever undertaken by the Alliance and one of the most technologically complicated » rejoiced a NATO official… a few years ago.

An old project

One might believe that this project emerges from one of the lessons learned from the operation by Libya (Unified Protector) ; the Allies participating in the operation did not have recognition and surveillance system and had to rely on the Americans. In fact, if this project fills one of the gaps noted, it dates back to the early 2000s following a need already noted by the conference of armaments directors. After two years of meetings, a first contract was signed in April 2005 with the consortium of manufacturers – the American Northop Grumman, European manufacturers (EADS, Thales, Galileo Avionica and Indra) and Canadian manufacturers (General Dynamics Canada ), united within the TIPS (Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution) group. The program memorandum (PMoU as Program Memorandum of Understanding) was signed in September 2009. Several studies followed, notably in 2009.

(*) as well as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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