As part of a new contract with the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) will provide three MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) to its first US customer.
According to the company, its MQ-9B will play a key part in developing AFSOC’s new Adaptive Airborne Enterprise (A2E) concept, which envisions AFSOC projecting air power for special operations forces from beyond the horizon, using a family of large UAS and expendable, small UAS from permissive to denied environments.
MQ-9B has demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours in certain configurations, automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM-only control, as well as a GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid System, among other upgrades. Its development is the result of a company-funded effort to deliver a UAS that can meet the stringent airworthiness certification requirements of various global military and civil authorities.
“We’re very excited to continue our great partnership with AFSOC well into the future,” said David R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI. “MQ-9B is the ideal platform for inserting air-launched effects into potentially hostile environments. The MQ-9B’s combination of range, endurance, reduced manpower footprint, and overall flexibility will make it a true centerpiece of AFSOC’s future family of advanced UAS systems.”
AFSOC’s acquisition of MQ-9B builds on more than 20 years as a GA-ASI partner and more than 14 years flying the MQ-9A Reaper, operating more than 40 aircraft in harsh environments around the world.