MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS Completes Cold Weather Validation Flight

According to GA-ASI, this validation flight satisfies the cold weather operational capability needs for Nordic countries’ defense and security needs By Caroline Rees / 01 Mar 2023
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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has performed Cold Weather Validation (CWV) using a company-owned MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), adding to the cold weather experience of the MQ-9 family of systems. 

SkyGuardian is being proposed to multiple Nordic countries for their defense and security needs. The CWV flight test widens and accelerates the global operational implementation for SkyGuardian, especially for countries that need to operate in cold conditions.

To prepare for the CWV, SkyGuardian was put in a ‘cold soak’ that kept the aircraft at a temperature below -21°C/-5°F for 12 hours, then prepared for ground maneuvers and flight through a de-icing process using de-icing and anti-icing fluids. 

In a second scenario, SkyGuardian transitioned from a climate-controlled hangar to engine start and system checks under basic cold conditions (temperature below -21°C/ -5°F ambient air). For the first flight, the outside temperature was below -21°C/-5°F. 

All scenarios were successfully and consistently conducted in good time, relying on standard de-icing and anti-icing procedures, fluids, and support equipment. The company believes this is a testament to the systems’ high readiness and responsiveness.

The system’s ground servicing actions, maneuvers, and flights were based out of GA-ASI’s Flight Test and Training Center in Grand Forks, N.D. 

“Among the many transformative features of our MQ-9B line of RPAS is the aircraft’s ability to perform in extreme temperatures,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “We welcome the cold weather operational capability requirements from Nordic countries, as the MQ-9B is built for all-weather global missions, and we’re thrilled to have MQ-9B perform so impressively under these demanding cold conditions. The CWV, coupled with our recent Low Earth Orbit SATCOM flight tests, demonstrate how our aircraft can successfully perform missions in the Arctic region, which is becoming a clear security priority for NORAD and NATO.”

GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian provide all-weather capability and certification, with full compliance with STANAG-4671 (NATO UAS airworthiness standard). This feature, along with GA-ASI’s operationally proven, collision-avoidance radar, enables flexible operations in civil airspace.

In addition to the Nordic countries, SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian have garnered interest from customers throughout the world. The UK Ministry of Defence selected MQ-9B SkyGuardian for its Protector program, and the Belgian Ministry of Defense signed a contract for SkyGuardian. MQ-9B have also been leased by the Japan Coast Guard.

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Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact