Tag Archives: GA-ASI

Guardian

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) concluded a series of flight demonstrations using its MQ-9 Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) on December 19, 2019. The demonstrations showcased the maritime surveillance capabilities of the MQ-9, and the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system for traffic-deconfliction in civil airspace. The flights were sponsored by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) and the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) and staged out of Larissa Air Base in Greece. The flights were performed for an audience of European military and civilian representatives.

GA-ASI Concludes Successful Series of MQ-9 Demonstrations in Greece

«We were honored to have the HAF’s and the HCG’s support for these flight demonstrations with our MQ-9», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «The MQ-9 RPAS is already a strategic asset for NATO countries, providing mission persistence and interoperability between allies. We showcased MQ-9s maritime surveillance and the civil airspace integration capabilities for our European customers». The MQ-9 configuration demonstrated is operational in the U.S.

Currently GA-ASI aircraft systems support the Italian Air Force, the UK Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, and the Spanish Air Force. The Ministry of Defence for the Netherlands has selected MQ-9 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and the Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defense to negotiate the acquisition of GA-ASI’s MQ-9B. In early December, the Australian Government announced selection of MQ-9B for the Australian Defence Force under Project Air 7003. GA-ASI RPAS are operated by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NASA.

«The advanced capabilities of these aircraft are striking. Through the 10 days of demonstrations, the country of Greece has seen the value of MQ-9’s for maritime patrol and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) monitoring, border surveillance, support for search and rescue efforts, and over-watch of forest fire response efforts», said an HAF official.

The DAA system consists of an air-to-air radar integrated with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The DAA system enables safe flight of an MQ-9 in civil airspace, and can even detect air traffic that is not actively transmitting its position.

The MQ-9 also demonstrated a multi-mode, maritime surface-search radar, and High-Definition/Full-Motion Video Optical and Infrared sensor. This sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of large and small surface vessels in all-weather at long ranges, 360 degrees around the aircraft. The featured Raytheon SeaVue surface-search radar provided continuous tracking of maritime targets and correlation of Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitters with radar detections. The Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) mode facilitates classification of vessels which are beyond optical sensor range.

For the demonstration, GA-ASI partnered with SES, a leading satellite communications (SATCOM) operator and managed services provider, with over 70 satellites in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES provided the GEO satellite connectivity that enabled the MQ-9 to operate securely with a high capacity datalink, enabling real-time transmission of sensor data from the aircraft, and extending its effective operational range far beyond that of «line-of-sight» datalinks.

«With our global satellite fleet, SES has been supporting the critical needs of GA-ASI and their government customers who have operated these aircraft for close to two decades», said Nicole Robinson, Senior Vice President, Global Government at SES Networks. «We were proud to support this demonstration effort for the Hellenic Air Force as part of our long-standing relationship with General Atomics».

Brimstone and Protector

MBDA has received a contract for the integration of its Brimstone high-precision strike missile onto the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Protector RG Mk1 remotely piloted aircraft developed and manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI).

The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace
The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace

Brimstone and Protector RG Mk1 will provide key new capabilities to the Royal Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) force, enabling them to engage high-speed moving and manoeuvring targets (including maritime fast attack craft for the first time). The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace.

Integration of Brimstone onto Protector RG Mk1 (which is the weaponised version of MQ-9B SkyGuardian) follows a series of successful firing trials of Brimstone from the Reaper/Predator B aircraft in the United States that demonstrated the advancement in performance that Brimstone offers. Brimstone integration will be completed in time for the entry to service of the aircraft with the RAF.

James Allibone, MBDA’s UK Sales Director, said: «Protector RG Mk1 is the third UK air platform to benefit from the unmatched capabilities of the Brimstone missile, providing UK Armed Forces with vital operational advantages and sovereign defence capabilities. Brimstone is unique in its ability to be carried by platforms in all domains, land, sea and air, providing a common weapon that delivers both operational and cost benefits. Commonality is a key part of all MBDA’s latest systems, and is a major contributor to the £1.7 billion in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MoD and MBDA has generated».

Earlier in 2018, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) announced a £400 million contract with MBDA for the Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) of Brimstone missile, to build new missiles and extend this missile’s service life beyond 2030.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Weight 50 kg/110.2 lbs.
Length 1.8 m/5.9 feet
Diameter 180 mm/7 inch

 

FAA approval

On August 16th General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, through National Airspace, to its Gray Butte Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, California. The MQ-9B is a STANAG 4671 (NATO airworthiness standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems)-compliant version of the Predator B product line. The 275-mile/443-km trip lasted approximately one hour, 45 minutes and required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly through various classes of non-restricted airspace.

Flight through Multiple Classes of Non-Segregated Airspace Represents another Step towards Certification
Flight through Multiple Classes of Non-Segregated Airspace Represents another Step towards Certification

«This flight is another milestone in our progression towards delivering an RPA system that meets NATO airworthiness requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)», said Linden Blue, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), GA-ASI. «MQ-9B SkyGuardian will be the first RPA system of its kind with a design-assurance level compliant with international type-certification standards, and can therefore be integrated more easily than legacy RPAs into civil airspace operations around the world».

A weaponized variant of the system is being acquired by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) under the MQ-9B PROTECTOR program. A maritime patrol variant, SeaGuardian, is designed to support open-ocean and littoral surface surveillance. All variants are designed to fly in excess of 35 hours with airspeeds up to 210 knots/242 mph/389 km/h, and to reach altitudes of more than 40,000 feet/12,192 m.

Development of MQ-9B began in 2012 as a company-funded effort. Program highlights include first flight in November 2016 and an endurance flight in May 2017 of 48.2 hours.

Qualification testing for type-certification will continue over the next two years, with deliveries to the RAF expected to begin early next decade.