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NATO’s Upgraded RQ-4D Returns to Italy

The NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft has returned to Sigonella Air Base, Italy, after receiving technical upgrades.

The plane, named NATO14, undertook a 21-hour flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California, US, and a series of comprehensive tests by manufacturer Northrop Grumman.

NATO14 received a maritime mode software upgrade to support its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operability.

The software uses MISAR (Maritime Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar) to enhance NATO14’s ability to monitor naval vessels and identify non-cooperative targets.

“The return of this aircraft marks a major milestone for AGS and the Alliance,” NAGSF Commander Brig. Gen. Andrew Clark said.

“The upgraded sensor dramatically improves NATO’s ISR capability by enabling effective collection in the Maritime domain.”

After NATO14’s arrival, four additional RQ-4D are expected to return to NAGSF’s base in Italy with the same upgrades.


NATO’s RQ-4D has a length of 48 feet (15 meters), weight of 14,950 pounds (6,800 kilograms/7 tons), and a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms/1.5 tons).

The RQ-4D is powered by a Rolls Royce-North American AE 3007H turbofan engine that enables a speed of 310 knots (360 miles/580 kilometers per hour).

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