DIMDEX 2022 visitors and participants have an opportunity to get close to the MQ-9B SeaGuardian Unmanned Aircraft System, which is on the wishlist of a number of militaries across the world.
California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has featured an actual SeaGuardian UAS, which is the maritime version of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, as part of its display at the ongoing show. While the GA-ASI stand is located at H6-121B, SeaGuardian is at H3-400.
Both the SeaGuardian and SkyGuardian have generated strong global and regional interest. The Qatar government is reportedly interested in procuring MQ-9B to enhance national security and defense.
“SeaGuardian provides persistent multi-domain situational awareness over land, sea and undersea, which is vital to our partners in the Middle East region,” said GA-ASI Senior Director of Strategic Communications & Marketing C. Mark Brinkley. “SeaGuardian is a critical security tool and GA-ASI is proud to build on our relationship with Qatar by putting the aircraft on display at DIMDEX.”
The MQ-9B line of UAS providesindustry-leading endurance and interoperability with allied partners. What differentiates SeaGuardian is its advanced maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability, which features a multi-mode maritime surface search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities, and a High-Definition, Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras.
The SeaGuardian aircraft on display at the show was used several months ago as part of a five-week demonstrations series with the Royal Air Force. The flights showcased SeaGuardian’s array of maritime capabilities, including ASW tasking and manned-unmanned teaming with an RAF P-8 aircraft. The UAS flew extensively in UK-controlled airspace, building the foundation for acceptance of unmanned aircraft operating routinely in unsegregated airspace.
In addition to the maritime patrol radar, AIS, and ASW capabilities, the SeaGuardian includes an Electronic Support Measures (ESM) payload that is integrated into the aircraft’s winglets. The ESM payload provides detection, identification, and geolocation of RF emitters and is valuable for long-range ISR missions.
Capable of delivering accurate, real-time information, for faster response, MQ-9B SeaGuardian is designed to conduct a wide variety of multi-domain maritime surveillance operations, including but not limited to Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue, and law enforcement. According to company officials, SeaGuardian, which is designed to operate for over 40,000 hours, complements manned maritime patrol aircraft and costs 86% less to operate per hour.
MQ-9B SeaGuardian and SkyGuardian have been designed and built from the ground up to meet NATO standards (STANAG-4671). The two aircraft share many operational capabilities, including a Detect and Avoid System (DAAS), industry-leading endurance of 30+ hours, and interoperability with allied partners. The aircraft are built to operate even in adverse weather, including icing conditions, and can survive bird and lightning strikes. The UAS is controlled by the company’s Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS).
SeaGuardian has been in the news in recent months. In September last year, GA-ASI flew the remotely piloted aircraft from Lincolnshire, England to Moray, Scotland. It was the first time that the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had approved a point-to-point domestic flight of an unmanned aircraft that utilized the country’s airways structure. The SeaGuardian flight was controlled by NATS, the UK’s civilian Air Navigation Service Provider.
In October, the company completed a series of flight demonstrations, in partnership with the Royal Air Force (RAF), featuring a company-owned SeaGuardian. The flights showcased the operational capabilities of the MQ-9B, including its advanced maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), DAAS, endurance, and interoperability with NATO partners.
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