General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is highlighting the capabilities of the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), which has the ability to fly in non-segregated airspace, at Seoul ADEX 2019. The RPA will be delivered to UK Royal Air Force (RAF) as the Protector RG Mk1 in the early 2020s.
Demand for the MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian, the maritime variant of the RPA, has grown in recent months. The Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defense to negotiate the acquisition of SkyGuardian to meet the nation’s RPA requirements. The aircraft is also being considered by the Australian Defence Force, which has selected GA-ASI to supply an RPA system for Project Air 7003.
The RAF is excited to add the SkyGuardian to its arsenal. “Protector will be a step change for us in terms of capability,” says RAF Group Captain Lyndon Jones. “The new aircraft will offer greater range and endurance, and will be certified to fly in UK Airspace.”
As part of its efforts to collaborate with international partners to integrate RPAS in civil airspace, GA-ASI has signed an MoU with the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), which is host to CR2CENT, Korea’s Civil RPAS Research Center (CR2CENT).
Given the RPA’s unique capabilities, company officials expect it to be demand in the Asia Pacific region as well. Already, India is said to be in discussions for the purchase of the SeaGuardian.
GA-ASI expects MQ-9B, which is a ground-up redesign of earlier variants, to achieve certification in the early 2020s, when the aircraft will meet NATO STANAG-4671 airworthiness standards, and subsequently meet commercial air- worthiness certification standards in cooperation with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The SkyGuardian’s capabilities include a new Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS), automatic takeoff, landing and taxi over SATCOM, Portable Pre/Post-Flight Equipment (P3E) and the Mission Intelligence Center. Other recent development achievements for the MQ-9B include successful lightning tests, and SATCOM Launch and Recovery using Expeditionary Command and Control (XC2).
In the basic configuration, the SeaGuardian is equipped with a high-definition Electro- optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor and a high-performance 360° multi-mode mari- time radar to support maritime patrol and surveillance missions.
In addition to exceptional endurance, SeaGuardian offers ISR capabilities for a wide range of operational and threat environments. Capable of operating at Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) ranges at altitudes over 40,000 feet and in inclem- ent weather conditions, the MQ-9B can also provide EO/IR Full Motion Video (FMV), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery, and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) data about potential threats to military commanders in real- time from stand-off ranges without harm to the aircrew.
The platform can also be equipped with a multi-mode maritime search radar, an Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) capability, and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) detection capability.
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