General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that it has used an MQ-9 Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to demonstrate the remote detection and tracking of submerged contacts, such as submarines, during a U.S. Naval exercise involving new maritime patrol capabilities that included anti-submarine warfare.
Sonobuoys were deployed by U.S. Navy helicopters and acoustic data gathered from the sonobuoys were used to track underwater targets. The data was transmitted to the MQ-9 and processed onboard, then relayed to the MQ-9’s Ground Control Station (GCS) several hundred miles away from the target area. The event successfully paired sonobuoy receiver, supplied by Ultra Electronics, and data processing technology, provided by General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada, onboard the MQ-9. A track solution was calculated and transmitted from the aircraft to the Ground Control Station (GCS) via SATCOM. This technology will provide long-range patrol and relay capabilities to the MQ-9 to augment maritime mission sets.
“This test demonstrated the ability of our RPA to detect submarines and provide persistent tracking of submerged targets,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI.
The MQ-9 was also equipped with GA-ASI’s Lynx Multi-mode Radar. The Lynx radar featured its Maritime Wide-area Search (MWAS) mode, which detects maritime surface targets over a wide area with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) for target classification. The aircraft’s Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR), high-definition Full-motion Video (FMV) camera supports the identification of surface vessels. These sensor contacts are correlated with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to verify target identity. Additionally, the MQ-9 can be fitted with a centerline pod that can house a longer-range, 360-degree field of regard maritime surface search radar for enhanced surveillance over water.
The flight test was conducted over the Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE) west of San Clemente Island.