NATO RQ-4D Phoenix completes 24hr mission

A NATO Air Ground Surveillance (AGS) RQ-4D Phoenix has completed its first ever 24-hour long mission after departing to the Black Sea region and returning 24hrs later to its home air base in Sigonella, Italy, on November 16.

The mission focused on the operators of the RQ-4D Phoenix, and their ability to hand over the system smoothly between shifts. Both the pilot of the RQ-4D and the sensor operators, who are responsible for controlling the Synthetic Aperture radar were swapped at the same time. 

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NATO ASG Force ground officers recover the RQ-4D Phoenix after its 24hr mission on November 16. NATO

For a mission to be safely executed, the RQ-4D does not only rely on its well-trained pilots, but also IT specialists who are there to ensure the satellite and communication link between the operating base in Sigonella and the RQ-4D. The NATO AGS Force is currently comprised of approximately 375 personnel from 24 nations.

This 24-hour mission is a milestone in reaching Full Operating Capability (FOC) for the NATO AGS Force. The mission demonstrated the forces efforts in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance proving the AGS force as a vital allied capability.

BGen Houston Cantwell, Commander of the NATO AGS Force said: "I am very proud of the teamwork accomplished, with this 24-hour mission, we have proven that we are on the right track to Full Operational Capability and are a valuable asset to NATO."