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BERLIN, March 5 (Reuters) - Germany is to contribute 400 million euros towards the construction of a ground surveillance system that NATO partners hope to operate from 2012, a defence ministry letter seen by Reuters showed on Thursday.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS), a system allowing NATO to survey wide surface areas from high altitude, is to cost the 17 participating nations around 1.5 billion euros ($1.89 billion) in total.
Defence ministers agreed on the project in February.
The main beneficiary of the system would be Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), which would provide eight Global Hawk surveillance drones, the letter sent by deputy defence minister Ruediger Wolf to the parliamentary defence committee showed.
European aerospace group EADS EAD.PA is to take a lead role in the development of 15 ground stations, it said.
"With this project, some 100 jobs will be secured at EADS and German sub-contractors over three years," the letter said. Other sub-contracts are to go to Finmeccanica SIFI.MI unit Selex Galileo and General Dynamics Corp (GD.N).
The partners involved hope to conclude the contracts by October 2009, the letter said. In Germany, the Bundestag lower house of parliament's defence and budget committees have to approve the plans in May or June. Their approval is widely expected.
Reporting by Sabine Siebold; editing by Simon Jessop