General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has successfully undertaken a test flight with a company-owned MQ-9A Block 5 UAS (unmanned aerial system) that incorporated a newly-developed Centerline Avionics Bay (CAB).
The CAB has developed due to a need for additional space for advanced avionics such as a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system. GA-ASI will use the additional space to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) applications, and to establish an Ethernet network with the outer wing stations in order to enable government Open Mission Systems (OMS) protocols for rapid, flexible, and affordable integration of new mission capabilities.
One of GA-ASI’s customers making use of the new payload bat is the U.S. Air National Guard, whose Ghost Reaper concept utilises the MQ-9A as a critical, multi-source correlation engine in a contested fight. The new capabilities being developed and integrated onto the unmanned aircraft will also become the catalyst for the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct.
J.R. Reid, Vice President of Strategic Development at GA-ASI, commented: “The Centerline Avionics Bay was purpose-built to provide additional volume, platform infrastructure, and cooling provisions for integrating High Performance Computing (HPC) systems on MQ-9 Block 1 and Block 5 RPA. The CAB will enable the MQ-9 to host Government OMS-compliant Autonomy, Machine Learning and eventually, Artificial Intelligence algorithms and applications. In addition to the HPC, we can work with customers on a broad range of capabilities with the additional space we get with the CAB.”