Tag Archives: Global Hawk

New Capabilities

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered a pair of sensors to enhance the capability of its Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance autonomous aircraft system. Enhancements include the deployment of the MS-177 multi-spectral camera system to provide additional high resolution imaging capability for operational users. The second new capability is the first fielding of the increment 1 upgraded AN/ASQ-230 system on Global Hawk to meet expanded electronic threats.

Global Hawk
Global Hawk takes off equipped with a MS-177 multi-spectral camera system. MS-177 provides high resolution imaging capability for operational users

The MS-177 camera system provides multiple channels of intelligence collection in visible and infrared bands and provides a dramatic increase in multi-spectral imaging capacity. When paired with a Global Hawk platform, the MS-177 provides collection coverage in areas that cannot easily be reached by other means. Fielding of the AN/ASQ-230 increment 1 enhances Global Hawk’s support against electronic threats.

«Ongoing improvements to Global Hawk underscore Northrop Grumman’s commitment to the United States Air Force’s ISR mission and reducing costs through agile development and leveraged solutions», said Leslie Smith, vice president, Global Hawk, Northrop Grumman. «New and improved payloads flying on our young, yet proven fleet of aircraft will allow our partners to deploy high value, networked assets to monitor adversaries while not risking the lives of military personnel well into the 2040s».

Global Hawk’s combination of autonomy, range, endurance and payload, and an average aircraft age of under nine years, make Global Hawk a valuable asset for domestic and international customers with critical ISR collection requirements. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments recently published a report highlighting the key role systems like Global Hawk play around the globe.

In the future, Global Hawk is uniquely positioned for additional missions that connect the joint force as one, including persistent high capacity backbone, pseudo-satellite communications coverage, and joint all-domain command and control.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

NATO’s First Hawk

Expanding NATO’s joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability, Northrop Grumman Corporation and its industry partners together with NATO leaders unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft to an audience of customers, distinguished guests, employees and community leaders on June 4, 2015 in Palmdale, California.

Northrop Grumman, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials and industry team representatives unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in Palmdale, California (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials and industry team representatives unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in Palmdale, California (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

The unmanned aircraft, a wide area surveillance Global Hawk, is part of a broader system of systems solution that will advance the Alliance’s evolving ISR needs during a full range of NATO’s missions such as protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control and maritime safety, the fight against terrorism, crisis management and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters.

«This marks a significant step forward in achieving NATO’s goal of acquiring NATO-owned and operated AGS Core Capability», said Erling Wang, chairman of the NATO AGS Management Organization (NAGSMO). «What you see here today is the result of one of the commitments made at the 2012 NATO Summit – to bring this advanced and critical persistent ISR capability to the Alliance to help ensure we can continue to address the range of challenges our member and other allied nations face».

The NATO-owned and operated program comprises five air vehicles and fixed, mobile and transportable ground stations. Northrop Grumman’s primary industrial team includes Airbus Defence and Space (Germany), Selex ES (Italy) and Kongsberg (Norway), as well as leading defense companies from all participating countries.

The industries of the 15 participating nations (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States), are each contributing to the delivery of the AGS system. All 28 Alliance nations will take part in the long-term support of the program.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 NATO AGS UAV
Northrop Grumman RQ-4 NATO AGS UAV

«We are establishing the necessary ground stations, command and control systems, and training and logistics support services at the NATO AGS main operating base at Sigonella Air Base in Italy», stated Jim Edge, general manager of the NATO AGS Management Agency.

With the ability to fly for up to 30 hours at a time, the high-altitude long-endurance system will provide NATO leaders with persistent global situational awareness. The aircraft is equipped with leading-edge technology, including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. The MP-RTIP will provide critical data to commanders during operations in any weather, day or night. The NATO AGS system will also be able to fuse sensor data, continuously detect and track moving objects and provide detailed imagery.

«The level of collaboration required to bring together successfully so many international partners in the development of this tremendous system of systems capability for NATO speaks to the commitment and strength of the trans-Atlantic relationships we have built with our key partners, to deliver what is truly a European program», said Janis Pamiljans, sector vice president and general manager, unmanned systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.


NATO AGS Programme

The airborne entity is based on a modified RQ-4 Block 40 High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicle (HALE UAV), enhanced to support NATO specific interoperability and communications requirements. The UAV is equipped with state-of-the-art, multi-mode, Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance radar sensor [Providing concurrent terrestrial and maritime Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) information in all-weather, day or night operations], enhanced with an extensive suite of network-centric enabled Line-Of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) long-range, wide-band data links.

First of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance System aircraft
First of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance System aircraft

The European-sourced ground entities include a number of mobile and transportable ground stations, all managed by the Mission Operation Support (MOS), providing mission planning, connectivity, data processing and exploitation capabilities. In addition, they provide an interface between the AGS Core system and a wide range of interoperable interfaces for data exchange with interoperable NATO/National C4ISR systems.

The Air Vehicle Missions Command and Control (AVMC2) provides overall mission command and control of multiple air vehicles, coordination with interoperable NATO and national Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) systems, and coordination of the ground entities through the MOS across geographically dispersed theatres of operations. This AVMC2 capability provides multiple UAV command and control, theatre-wide Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2) and sensor and information management within an integrated ground-based Operations Centre.

The MOS and AVMC2, along with the training and logistics support elements, will be located at the Main Operating Base (MOB) at Sigonella Air Base in Italy.

The AGS Core provides unprecedented real-time airborne ground surveillance and situational awareness information throughout the full range of operations for NATO and the nations. A system of systems, the AGS Core consists of air, ground, mission operations and support elements, performing all-weather, persistent wide-area terrestrial and maritime surveillance.

Using an advanced radar sensor, augmented with off-board Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) sensors and Full Motion Video (FMV) information, the AGS Core fuses sensor data, continuously detects and tracks moving objects, and provides object emission profiles as well as imagery of stationary objects throughout the observed areas.

Each AGS Core ground entity and the AVMC2 exchanges NATO standard C2ISR data with the interoperable NATO and national systems, further expanding the situational awareness available to ground, maritime, and air commanders in support of NATO missions – anywhere in the world.

The AGS Core, supplemented by national systems, will provide unprecedented situational awareness to different levels of command in support of NATO forces engaged in the full range of missions.

Programme underway:

  • Contract Award at NATO Summit 2012;
  • Initial Operating Capability 2017;
  • Full Operational Capability 2018.
The NATO AGS aircraft will be a major contribution to NATO's Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance capability and a key building block for NATO Network Enabled Capability operations (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
The NATO AGS aircraft will be a major contribution to NATO’s Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance capability and a key building block for NATO Network Enabled Capability operations (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)



Wingspan 130.9 feet/39.9 m
Length 47.6 feet/14.5 m
Height 15.4 feet/4.7 m
Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) 32,250 lbs/14,628 kg
Power Plant Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine
Thrust 8,290 lbs/36.8 kN/3,752.5 kgf
Maximum Altitude 60,000 feet/18.3 km
Payload 3,000 lbs/1,360 kg
Loiter Velocity 310 knots TAS/357 mph/574 km/h
Ferry Range 12,300 NM/14,155 miles/22,780 km
On-Station Endurance Exceeds 24 hours
Maximum Endurance 30 hours


NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS)