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NATO RQ-4D verifies system performance in 9-hour flight test

Photo: Northrop Grumman

NATO’s new RQ-4D Phoenix remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS) achieved another milestone this month by completing its first flight under control of NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) pilots.

The nine-hour training and test flight is part of the RQ-4D’s system level performance verification, which is being undertaken in cooperation with Northrop Grumman, the RPAS manufacturer.

During the flight, the Phoenix’s sensors collected synthetic aperture radar imagery and moving target information data which was transferred to the NAGSF processing, exploitation and dissemination center for near real-time processing, and future distribution to allies

The NATO AGS RQ-4D aircraft is based on the US Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. It has been adapted to NATO requirements and will provide NATO intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. This includes protecting ground troops, civilian populations and international borders in peacetime, times of conflict and for humanitarian missions during natural disasters.

The alliance received the first of five aircraft in Sigonella, Italy, in November 2019. All five systems are currently performing different stages of developmental test flights. Once each of the aircraft arrives at the main operating base in Sigonella, a verification phase will start, in order to ensure full compliance of the system.