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3 février 2012 5 03 /02 /février /2012 18:25
NATO to Acquire Unmanned Aircraft

Feb. 3, 2012 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Norwegian Ministry of Defence; issued Feb. 3, 2012)
(Issued in Norwegian only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)

NATO Defence ministers have made a very important decision to acquire unmanned aircraft for surveillance of land and oceans - NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS).

“Common solutions have tied NATO together for over 60 years and give the nations of the Alliance access to strategic capabilities that are disproportionately expensive to acquire alone. This decision is therefore a very good example of why it is important for Norway to join the NATO,” says Norwegian Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide.

It is important that the Alliance has real time information about the situation on the ground and at sea. AGS will give NATO the ability to monitor large areas from high altitude, long range under all weather and lighting conditions. The monitoring is done with unmanned aircraft of the type of the Global Hawk, which has a range of 16,000 kilometers and can fly at altitudes up to 60,000 feet. The aircraft will be controlled from a ground station in Italy.

“NATO nations show, with this decision, that there is a political will to work together to invest in public safety, despite the difficult economic situation that affects many countries,” said Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide.

Norway's share of the investment is estimated at 320 million. The acquisition will also provide contracts for Norwegian industry.

NATO will own and operate the unmanned surveillance aircraft. In addition, to meeting military surveillance needs, the aircraft will have the capacity to contribute to the monitoring of large ocean areas, transportation routes, oil and gas installations and environmental monitoring. This is a capacity that will also be suitable in the far North.

It is expected that the aircraft will be operational in 2017.

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