Nato’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force has received the fourth RQ-4D Phoenix remotely piloted aircraft at the Italian Air Force Base (AFB) in Sigonella.

After taking off from Edwards AFB in California, US, the aircraft landed at Sigonella following a 22-hour journey.

The arrival marks another step towards the completion of Nato AGS Force’s fleet of five total aircraft.

The third RQ-4D Phoenix remotely piloted aircraft was delivered less than two weeks ago.

Nato AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell said: “The arrival of the fourth aircraft enhances our capabilities with greater redundancy and flexibility.

“The Nato AGS Force continues our advance in becoming Nato’s key provider of regional ‘indications and warning’ information to members of the Nato Alliance.”

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The AGS System was procured by the Nato AGS Management Agency (NAGSMA).

Movement of the aircraft from California to Italy was controlled by industry pilots at the AGS Force’s Main Operating Base in Sigonella.

The first three aircraft were transported similarly.

Following arrival, the remotely piloted system will be handed over to the force after the NAGSMA and the Italian Airworthiness Authorities finalise the required documentation.

The Agency general manager Brigadier General Volker Samanns said: “Having now four out of five Nato AGS aircraft in SIGONELLA demonstrates the commitment and ability of the AGS procuring nations and of NAGSMA to deliver the Nato AGS system while increasing our flexibility in testing the system.

“It also provides the Nato AGS Force additional equipment for familiarisation and training.”