SeaGuardian UAS Flies From UK To The Netherlands

By Mike Ball / 03 Sep 2021
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SeaGuardian UAS

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has successfully flown a MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAS (unmanned aerial system) from RAF Waddington across the North Sea to Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands. The flight, performed in conjunction with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), was the culmination of a two-day series between the two airspaces.

The multi-day demonstration displayed SeaGuardian’s maritime surveillance capabilities in support of international allies, including the platform’s advanced maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Detect and Avoid System (DAAS), long endurance, and interoperability with NATO partners. The RNLAF has ordered four MQ-9A RPA and the first is expected to be delivered to Leeuwarden later this year.

The flight to Leeuwarden was conducted as Operational Air Traffic, under the control of UK military air traffic controllers at Swanwick, up to the boundary between the UK’s and the Netherlands’ controlled airspace. At the agreed crossing point, Dutch military air traffic controllers took responsibility for the flight. The SeaGuardian’s DAAS enables the platform to operate among civilian aviation traffic in the national airspace.

SeaGuardian will also participate in the UK-led Joint Warrior exercise, which will showcase how the MQ-9B’s maritime capabilities can be integrated with other air, surface and land platforms. SeaGuardian’s maritime capability includes a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) along with the standard High-Definition, Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras.

Lieutenant-Colonel Boudewijn Roddenhof, commander of the RNLAF’s 306 squadron, which will operate the new MQ-9A Reapers, commented: “Today’s flight is a major milestone for us. It demonstrates the ability of the MQ-9 to operate in our airspace and validates the procedures for air traffic control. It also familiarizes the air traffic controllers with Remotely Piloted Aircraft, which is an opportunity we have not had before.”

Robert Schoeffling, vice president of International Strategic Development for GA-ASI, said: “We’re thrilled to showcase the game-changing capabilities of our RPA for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. We appreciate the international cooperation we’ve received from the RAF, the RNLAF and civil aviation authorities such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Our MQ-9B series is built and equipped to meet certification standards that will allow it to fly in non-segregated airspace.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact