General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that it has partnered with the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) in Greece to conduct a series of demonstration flights for European countries with the company’s MQ-9 Guardian RPA (remotely piloted aircraft). The flights will be launched from the HAF’s base in Larissa, and will showcase maritime surveillance capabilities, as well as a GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system that will enable drones to fly safely in civil airspace alongside manned aircraft.
The DAA system, designed by GA-ASI and currently operational in the U.S., consists of an air-to-air radar and processor integrated with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).
The MQ-9 demonstrator UAS is based on the configuration of the aircraft currently operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in support of its maritime surveillance roles. The aircraft carries a multi-mode Raytheon SeaVue 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. This sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles, as well as correlation of AIS transmitters with radar detection.
For the demonstrations, GA-ASI will also be partnering with satellite communications (SATCOM) operator and managed services provider SES. 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 UAS 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.
Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI, commented: “We appreciate the HAF’s support in helping showcase the maritime surveillance and civil airspace integration capabilities of our unmanned aircraft in Europe. The demand for affordable, long-endurance airborne surveillance of the seas surrounding Europe is growing.”
Nicole Robinson, Senior Vice President, Global Government at SES Networks, said: “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. We are proud to support this demonstration effort for the Hellenic Air Force as part of our long-standing relationship with General Atomics.”