AGS REACHES NEXT STAGE
By Julian Nettlefold
01 May 09. On 25th March a German official told Reuters that Germany has approved €400m ($539.9m) of funding to help build a ground surveillance system that NATO partners hope to operate from 2012. The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS), a system allowing NATO to survey wide surface areas from high altitude using hardware including unmanned drones, will be based on the southern Italian island of Sicily. Approval for the project was granted under the condition that any increase in Germany’s contribution would have to be approved by an appropriations committee, which will be informed of bids in an interim report, the official on the committee said under condition of anonymity. The project, agreed by defence ministers in February, will cost 15 participating nations from the North Atlantic alliance around €1.3bn in total.
The prime contractor for the system will be Northrop Grumman, which will provide eight Global Hawk Block-40s, EADS is to take a lead role in the development of 15 ground stations, a letter from the defence ministry showed this month.
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold visited Northrop Grumman’s Melbourne, Florida Plant last month to meet Matt Copija to discuss the latest developments in AGS.
“In essence when the NATO nations decided to drop the manned Airbus A320 part of AGS that ushered in a complete change for the Project.” Copija said. “The revised AGS Project was a slimmed down version both technically and financially. It meant the end of the TCAR radar project and with it the multi-national Joint Venture Company, being replaced with the MP-RTIP, built by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, being the preferred system solution. The UAV element will be eight Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Block-40 with the eleven mobile Ground Stations supplied by EADS and GD Canada and Selex Galileo the four fixed versions. Poland, Turkey, France and Spain are now out of the Project. The Global Hawks will be based at a semi-permanent location in Italy.”
“When do you expect contract signature.”
“With these new developments, some time to the middle of this year with an In Service Date of 2012-3 at a contract value of 1.3 billion Euros.”
“How does the German EUROHAWK integrate into AGS?”
“EUROHAWK will integrate into AGS as a national asset and be fully interoperable.”
“With TCAR dead how does the European industry hope to gain from the development process already funded?”
“The SOSTAR Group is trying to re-use the technology on another platform, probably a helicopter and, at the same time, develop a European datalink.”
“How will NATO interoperate the AGS system?”
“The 15 participating Nations will get full access to the data drawn down from the system, other nations such as the U.K. will get exploited restricted data in theatre.”
“When do you expect to field the system?”
“We hope to field as soon as possible after contract signature as it will form a vital asset for the war in Afghanistan. Nations recommitted themselves to the program at the NATO Summit in April.”
“How has MP-RTIP developed since the Project was stalled?”
“We have continued to develop the smaller MP-RTIP for Global Hawk and have ratched up 50,000 hours of development time.”