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NATO Scheming to Boost Drones’ Spying Capabilities

© Northrop GrummanThe US Air Force plans to replace Lockheed Martin’s infamous U-2 spy plane with Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk.
The US Air Force plans to replace Lockheed Martin’s infamous U-2 spy plane with Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk. - Sputnik International
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The Global Hawk drones require a ton of data storage on back-end servers, making the drones even more expensive to operate. But NATO has a solution for that.

NATO will invest approximately $1.85 billion into boosting its satellite communications capabilities, specifically to handle the data from its newest drone squad, the Wall Street Journal reported. The treaty alliance was slated to have all five of its US-made Global Hawk drones delivered by the end of 2017. 

The aircraft are likened to a "vacuum cleaner of data" by the WSJ, driving NATO to pursue more bandwidth space just to keep up. NATO expects to start hearing bids from defense companies internationally by the end of 2017. 

Units from NATO allied countries take part in the NATO Noble Jump 2015 exercises, part of testing and refinement of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in Swietoszow, Poland June 18, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The Global Hawk, along with its predecessor, the Predator, "were by far the most voracious consumers of military bandwidth," during Operation Enduring Freedom, which lasted from October 2001 until the end of 2014. That’s according Benjamin S. Lambeth’s book, Air Power Against Terror, which was based on a report that conducted by the Rand National Defense Research Institute for the US Central Command.

"For its part, a single Global Hawk consumed around 500 megabits of bandwidth per second when it was operating, about five times the total bandwidth consumed by the entire US military during Operation Desert Storm at its peak," Lambeth writes.

In addition to buying more bandwidth space, on Saturday a NATO official confirmed that the bloc plans to spend another $1 billion on cybersecurity investments, air defense and missile defense infrastructure, Politico-EU reports. 

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