Stewart Penney/LONDON

The NATO Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) has agreed on a twin-track approach to satisfying the Alliance's air-to-ground surveillance (AGS) requirement.

A US-led group, including Canada, Denmark and Norway, will move ahead with a two-year project definition phase for a system based on the Northrop Grumman/Raytheon Radar Technology Insertion Programme (RTIP) while France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands will continue with the Stand-Off Surveillance Target Acquisition Radar programme.

CNAD's decision moves forward a programme which had stalled, with European nations keen to maintain national radar capabilities and the USA willing only to fund a programme based on its own Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System for which the RTIP is an ongoing upgrade. A NATO source describes the decision as "a sensible divorce", which removes the problems caused by NATO members progressing at different speeds.

The UK is acquiring its own AGS and is close to a decision on awarding a contract for its business jet-based Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) competition. BAe is offering an RTIP-based system as part of Team Wizard with Northrop Grumman.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are also competing for the ASTOR requirement.

Source: Flight International