General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has begun a series of demonstration flights using its MQ-9 Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
The flights, being hosted by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) and staged out of Larissa Air Base in Greece, showcase the maritime surveillance capabilities of the MQ-9, as well as the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system. The flight series is being performed for an audience of European country representatives.
“We appreciate the HAF’s support with our customer demonstrations,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “GA-ASI is highlighting the maritime surveillance and civil airspace integration capabilities of our unmanned aircraft for our European customers. Our long-endurance RPA (25-40 hours per sortie, depending on configuration) will be on display and provide insight into the importance of maritime patrol, as well as showcase our DAA avionics system that will support our goal of flying RPA in civil airspace.”
“The HAF looks forward to seeing the results of this demonstration. In addition to defense capabilities, these aircraft provide maritime patrol and EEZ monitoring, border surveillance, support for search and rescue efforts, and over-watch of forest fire response efforts,” said an HAF official.
GA-ASI’s 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 system’s traffic surveillance and collision avoidance radar provides important safety features for the flight of a large Unmanned Aircraft Systems in controlled airspace.
The MQ-9 will also demonstrate a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, and High-Definition/Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. The sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles. The featured Raytheon SeaVue surface-search radar provides continuous tracking of maritime targets and correlation of AIS transmitters with radar tracks.
GA-ASI is also partnering 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 will provide the GEO satellite connectivity that enables 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 are proud to support this demonstration effort for the Hellenic Air Force as part of our long-standing relationship with General Atomics.”
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