Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow addressed the event in the presence of NATO Defence Ministers.
"Today is a big day for the Alliance Ground Surveillance programme," the Deputy Secretary General said. "The signature of the procurement contract for the AGS system is an important step towards the delivery of this key capability to the Alliance. It will move us from consultations to implementation. From an idea to a programme. From a paper on our desk to a capability operating at an altitude of 60,000 feet."
The AGS acquisition contract includes the purchase and initial operation and maintenance of unmanned aircraft equipped with advanced ground surveillance radar sensors. The system will provide a real-time and long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to NATO forces in a wide range of missions, including protecting ground forces, crisis management, peace support operations, border and maritime security and humanitarian assistance.
"The decision to move ahead with the Alliance Ground Surveillance programme in today's difficult economic climate sends a powerful message," the Deputy Secretary General said.
The procurement contract was signed by the NATO AGS Management Agency (NAGSMA), representing the 13 Allies that will acquire the AGS system to the benefit of all Allies, and the industrial prime contractor. Operating under NATO command, AGS will be the major data source for NATO's system for Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR).