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General Atomics, Lockheed Martin team up for UAS project

General Atomics, Lockheed Martin team up for UAS project

The companies have paired their respective UAS platforms to test infrared sensing capability.

The companies have paired their respective UAS platforms to test infrared sensing capability.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has paired its MQ-20 Avenger Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) with a Lockheed Martin-built Sabreliner, and two F-5 Advanced Tigers (AT) from Tactical Air Support configured with internal tactical infrared search and track (TacIRST) sensors.

The exercise aimed to perform multi-platform infrared sensing, with all aircraft conducting coordinated manoeuvres to sense relevant airborne targets in the infrared spectrum.


This involved digitally connecting the MQ-20 and Sabreliner over a Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) mesh network to share sensing observations.

Five digital twins of the MQ-20 were also integrated to autonomously fly a live, virtual, constructive (LVC) collaborative combat mission.

All live aircraft reportedly leveraged next-generation TacIRST sensors during the test to provide air-to-air moving target tracking.

The live tracks were provided by Lockheed Martin’s TacIRST sensor, processed on a General Dynamics Mission Systems’ EMC2 Multi-Function Processor (MFP), dubbed the “Einstein Box”.  

According to General Atomics, the flight demonstrated crewed and uncrewed teaming between the MQ-20s, Sabreliner and manned F-5 AT tactical fighters.

“This test flight has broken new ground for us,” GA-ASI senior director of advanced programs Michael Atwood said.

“It demonstrated effective collaboration between four established defence prime contractors flying with advanced sensing, crewed and uncrewed teaming, and advanced airborne high-performance computing to meet challenging air dominance scenarios.

“This is a clear demonstration of our rapidly maturing Autonomous Collaborative Platform (ACP) mission system suite and moves us one step closer to providing this revolutionary capability to the warfighter.”

Matthew Merluzzi, senior program manager at Lockheed Martin, said leveraging TacIRST to fly the aircraft represented a “major milestone” for the company.

“By leveraging open mission systems, our team has demonstrated that common platform integration is possible across a variety of vehicles bringing advanced capabilities to our warfighters quicker and more affordably,” he said.

General Atomics’ MQ-20 team used a government-furnished CODE autonomy engine and the government-standard Open Mission Systems (OMS) messaging protocol to enable communication between the autonomy core and TacIRST.

GA-ASI also leveraged General Dynamics’ EMC2 — billed as an open architecture MFP with multi-level security infrastructure to run the autonomy architecture.

[Related: Lockheed Martin tapped to deliver cyber training to US Army]

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