AGS: NATO’s Battlefield Eye in the Sky [Alliance Ground Surveillance]
May 29/13: Sense and Avoid. Queries to Northrop Grumman confirm that the RQ-4B Block 40 doesn’t have an automatic collision avoidance system – yet:
“The U.S. Air Force has not contracted with Northrop Grumman to develop a collision avoidance system. However, the Air Force Research Laboratory has been developing an airborne sense-and-avoid system since 2008 that the service has slated to be installed and demonstrated on a Global Hawk. I recommend that you contact the Air Force for more information.”
In the wake of Euro Hawk’s cancellation over ruinous civil flight certification costs, German lawmakers are already wondering if AGS remains viable. It’s worth noting that NAS Sigonella in Sicily has already been a base of operations for RQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawks, which lack any form of collision avoidance system. On the other hand, AGS was sold as a system that could be equally relevant during domestic disasters. If AGS UAVs can only fly through the military airspace around “Saigon”, over international waterways, and into combat zones, it’s going to limit the pool’s usefulness.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) program began in 1995, and it has taken a very long time. Its MoU was late, its contract will be both late and smaller in scope, and it won’t meet even a revised 2012 – 2014 fielding window. At long last, however, one can be assured that it will exist. This is DID’s in-depth FOCUS Article covering the AGS program, from its platforms to its program structure to its long-awaited contracts.
The original AGS plan involved an Airbus A321 counterpart to Northrop Grumman’s E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (J-STARS), a Boeing 707 derivative whose powerful ground-looking Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) offers American commanders combat-changing battlefield surveillance and communications. AGS would be a pooled NATO asset, adding 7 RQ-4B Global Hawk UAVs and dedicated ground stations to complement the manned planes. It has since been reduced to just 5 RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk UAVs and dedicated ground stations, but could expand again if countries decide to make some of their national surveillance assets part of the program.
The Need for AGS
NATO AGS: Program & History
NATO AGS: Platforms & Technologies
AGS: The Aerial Component
AGS: Go Jump in the Pool
AGS: The Ground Component
NATO AGS: Key Events & Contracts
2012 – 2013
2010 – 2011
2007 – 2009
2004 – 2006
Additional Readings & Sources
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