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I remember first writing about NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system more than two decades ago when it was envisaged as a fleet of Joint Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar System (Joint Stars) aircraft. (NATO preferred to use the term "acquisition" instead of the original, more aggressive "attack" to stress the defensive nature of the alliance.) This grew into a proposal for a mixed Joint Stars/Global Hawk fleet, but as countries dropped out of the AGS program, it has now been reduced to five Global Hawk Block 40 UAVs to be acquired by 13 allies: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the U.S.NATO imageDuring the final press conference of the Feb. 2-3 allied defense ministers meeting, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that a funding solution for AGS was agreed on. Ministers agreed that NATO common funding will be used for infrastructure, satellite communications, operations and support. In addition, the U.K. will provide the Sentinel R1 Airborne Standoff Radar (Astor, which at one time competed with Joint Stars for AGS) while France, which dropped out of AGS, will provide its Heron TP UAV as "national contributions in kind," partly replacing financial contributions from these two countries.AGS will be available in the next three to five years. Its main operating base will be Sigonella in Sicily, which will serve as both a NATO joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance deployment base and a data exploitation training center.
ar99, unmanned, NATO
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