NATO clears funding hurdle to buy five Global Hawks


From Stephen Trimble, Flight Global:  NATO officials have cleared a key hurdle in a long-delayed process to buy five Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned air systems.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen provided no details of the arrangements in a 3 February press conference, but confirmed members "have found the way ahead on a practical funding solution" for the alliance ground surveillance (AGS) programme.

Funding and operational details have delayed a contract signing since October 2010, even as three of the original 15 AGS programme members – Canada, Denmark and Poland – have withdrawn from the programme. 

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  the good news is that today we also found the way ahead on a practical funding solution for NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance system. This means that a group of Allies will acquire 5 reconnaissance drones. NATO will then maintain and operate them on behalf of all 28 Allies. This will give our commanders the ability to see what is happening on the ground at long range and over periods of time – around the clock, and in any weather.

At our Lisbon Summit in 2010, we agreed that this is a priority. And our recent operation to protect civilians in Libya showed how important such a capability is. Today we are delivering on our commitments. We are demonstrating that our priorities are the right ones and that we are determined to learn the lessons from our operations. 

Excerpt from press conference by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen following the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers.  (photo: Northrop Grumman)

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