NATO RQ-4D surveillance drone conducts first mission over Finland

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

On September 13, 2023, a NATO surveillance drone concluded a flight over Finland, the Alliance’s newest member. The unmanned aircraft, traveling at high altitudes above Allies’ territories and in international airspace, collected data for Allies to support their collective deterrence and defence.


This mission was the first time a NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) RQ-4D drone flew over Finland. This mission came as NATO Air Forces continue to step up their reconnaissance missions on the Alliance’s eastern borders in the wake of Russia’s full-fledged war against Ukraine. Since 2022, NATO’s fleet of Alliance Ground Surveillance drones has conducted multiple missions on the Alliance’s eastern flank, predominantly in the Black Sea region. The flight on September 13 also helped NAGSF operators to familiarise with the new terrain.


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Nicknamed “Phoenix”, the RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft are among the world’s most advanced drones, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over a wide area. The NATO-owned and operated aircraft are based in Sigonella, Italy and can stay in the air for more than 30 hours at a time. Surveillance and reconnaissance data collected by the aircraft and analysed by NAGSF experts are made available to all Allies to inform Alliance decision-making processes.



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