On February 15, the initial operational capacity of the joint NATO force armed with the high-capacity RQ-4D remotely operated aircraft was declared. The ceremony was to see the five aircraft that make up the fleet together for the first time. It is the initial activation or Initial Operationally Capable (IOC) for carrying out missions of the so-called ground surveillance force or the ground surveillance of the NATO Alliance (AGS) RQ-4D Phoenix.
This multinational NATO force, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), in which the Spanish Armed Forces (FAS) play a key role, mainly the Air Force, operates a fleet of five remote-controlled aircraft or remote-controlled aircraft systems (RPAS) from the North American model Northrop Grumman RQ-4D Phoenix or Global Hawk, one of the largest models in the world, with a length of 14.5 meters and a width of almost 40 meters (a Eurofighter is 15.6 and 10.95 respectively). The alliance thus significantly increases its situational awareness and awareness of signs and warnings of what is happening at its borders.
This complex system, operated and owned by NATO, enables the Alliance to monitor large areas of land. We are talking about an RPAS called HALE (High-Altitude Long-Endurance / High-Height Long Autonomy), which work thanks to its more than 32 hours of autonomy and the ability to work day and night in any weather, at considerable distances. It uses advanced sensors that continuously detect and track moving objects and provide radar images of areas of interest and stationary objects. This Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability, generated by the NATO AGS RQ-4D Phoenix, is available to all 30 NATO allies.
In 2009, NATO announced that it would receive a fleet of eight RQ-4Ds with MP-RTIP radar systems. NATO had budgeted $ 1.4 billion for the project and signed a letter of intent. In May 2012, a contract was signed for five of the above-mentioned Global Hawks of Advanced Block 40. The first RQ-4D reached the Sigonella Air Force Base in Sicily (Italy) on November 21, 2019 and the last aircraft in November 2020. Thanks to the IOC declaration, we were now able to watch all five games together. (Julio Maz Sanz)
Photo: NATO AGS RQ-4D Phoenix Fleet and Personnel. (NATO photo)
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