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General Atomics to demonstrate maritime patrol capability of Reaper family

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has partnered with the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) in Greece to conduct a series of maritime surveillance demonstration flights for the MQ-9 Guardian platform.

Flights will base out of the HAF’s site in Larissa and use a GA-ASI MQ-9 Guardian RPA to showcase maritime surveillance capabilities, as well as a GA-ASI-developed detect and avoid (DAA) system that enables RPA to fly safely in civil airspace alongside manned aircraft.

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Linden Blue, GA-ASI chief executive, explained, "We appreciate the HAF’s support in helping showcase the maritime surveillance and civil airspace integration capabilities of our unmanned aircraft in Europe. The demand for affordable, long-endurance airborne surveillance of the seas surrounding Europe is growing."

The demonstration configuration is based on the MQ-9 systems operated by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in support of its maritime surveillance roles.

The DAA system consists of an air-to-air radar and processor integrated with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).

The DAA system from GA-ASI is operational in the US – the system’s collision-avoidance radar provides an essential safety feature for integrating unmanned aircraft into civil airspace.

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The MQ-9 system will also demonstrate a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) mode, an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver, and high definition/full motion video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras.

This sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.

The featured Raytheon SeaVue surface-search radar system provides automatic tracking of maritime targets and correlation of AIS transmitters with radar detection.

GA-ASI is also partnering with SES, a leading satellite communications (SATCOM) operator and managed services provider, with over 70 satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) and medium-Earth orbit (MEO).

SES will provide the GEO satellite connectivity that enables the MQ-9 to operate securely with a high-capacity data link, enabling real-time transmission of sensor data from the aircraft, and extending its effective operational range far beyond that of “line-of-sight” data links.

Nicole Robinson, senior vice president, global government at SES Networks, explained, "With our global satellite fleet, SES has been supporting the critical needs of GA-ASI and their government customers who have operated these aircraft for close to two decades. We are proud to support this demonstration effort for the Hellenic Air Force as part of our long-standing relationship with General Atomics."

GA-ASI, an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator RPA series and the Lynx multi-mode radar.

With 6 million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. 

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is a series of armed, unmanned aerial systems that has a number of variants, each modified for specific tasks and operational requirements, with a firm decision on Australia's variant still to be confirmed.

Project AIR 7003 Phase 1 is calling for a MALE UAS, colloquially known as self-piloted killer drones. Team Reaper Australia is an industrial team drawing on the expertise of companies including Cobham, Raytheon Australia, CAE Australia and Flight Data Systems, and now includes TAE Aerospace, Rockwell Collins, Ultra Electronics Australia, Airspeed and Quickstep Holdings.

General Atomics to demonstrate maritime patrol capability of Reaper family
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