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GA-ASI to develop new ABAD pod for MQ-9A

15th May 2024 - 16:59 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The MQ-9A Reaper can reach a maximum airspeed of 240kt at sea level and climb to a maximum altitude of 50,000ft. (Photo: US Air Force/DoD)

A collaboration between General Atomics and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will seek to equip the MQ-9A Reaper with enhanced threat detection and protection against Radio Frequency and Infrared threats.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has partnered with USSOCOM to develop an Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense (ABAD) capability.

The initiative was set out to target enhancing the GA-ASI-supplied MQ-9A Block 5 Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Tactical (MALET) extended-range UAV operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The ABAD system was designed to detect and protect against Radio Frequency (RF) and Infrared (IR) threats. 

David Alexander, president of GA-ASI, emphasised the significance of threat awareness and survivability in contested environments for the MQ-9A. 

“ABAD will enable the tracking of RF and IR missile threats, enable defensive measures and [offer] real-time threat awareness for MQ-9A,” Alexander remarked.

The initial contract phase focused on assessing suitable RF Electronic Warfare (EW) and IR countermeasures systems resulting in the selection of a next-generation software-defined radio-based EW system from BAE Systems and the AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure System (DAIRCM) from Leonardo DRS.

Engineering and testing efforts have been underway to develop the ABAD capability as a podded payload for operation on the MQ-9A aircraft by 2025.

The Shephard News Team


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