Airbus A321 AGS

TYPE: Airborne ground surveillance system.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: International

PROGRAMME: Northrop Grumman recommended the A321 as its preferred Joint STARS platform  to compete for NATO's AGS (airborne ground surveillance) requirement. Considered in 1996 and rejected on cost grounds, the A321 was reconsidered in the light of NATO's unwillingness to accept a Boeing 707-based solution. Plans called for selection in 2002 and IOC, with six aircraft, by 2007, but implementation delayed by US refusal to release all technology. Northrop Grumman's AGS proposal features the US Army's AN/APY-X RTIP (Radar Technology Insertion Program) with an underfuselage electronically scanned antenna array, giving spot/swath SAR, wide area MTl, ultra-high resolution SAR, inverse SAR and long-range high-resolution MTI modes.

It would have between 10 and 12 operator stations. By 2002, Northrop Grumman, EADS and Galileo Avionica promoting TIPS (Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution) based on A3I9/A320/A321 airframe and with participation of wide range of subcontractors throughout NATO countries; target IOC of 2010, given 2003 political decision, would involve estimated four aircraft and 18 ground stations to provide minimum singleorbit coverage; full requirement may be 12 and 48, respectively, although six and 24 would ensure two simultaneous missions. Promotion continued into 2003, with addition to programme of UAVs as 'gap-fillers'.



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