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Reaper UAV tests new SATCOM capability

6th February 2023 - 10:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The LEO SATCOM package was tested on an MQ-9A Reaper aircraft in December. (Photo: GA-ASI)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GS-ASI) has successfully flight-tested a low-Earth-orbit SATCOM capability on board an MQ-9A aircraft.

GA-ASI and the US Air National Guard (ANG), with support from the USMC and USAF, have flight tested an MQ-9A Reaper UAV equipped with a low Earth orbit (LEO) SATCOM C2 system.

The flight took place on 22 December. According to GA-ASI, the capability provides global coverage and connectivity that will support 'pole-to-pole' operations for the company's MALE UAS family, including the MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian and Gray Eagle, as well as the Reaper.

'This is truly game-changing for our platforms,' said GA-ASI president David R Alexander. 'Using LEO SATCOM not only keeps GA-ASI aircraft connected from the North Pole to the South Pole to allow operations in the most austere environments, but it will also provide resilient connectivity that allows operators to pass much more data to and from the aircraft.'

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The testing indicates that LEO SATCOM reduces latency and can be used in all phases of flight. LEO SATCOM should decrease operational costs for operators, and the equipment's low hardware footprint will ultimately increase flexibility and reduce future payload integration costs.

The MQ-9A flight test made from GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility  in California, and followed several weeks of ground testing.

In terms of the market for the technology, Shephard Defence insight lists a total of 398 MQ-9As on order, 63 Gray Eagle ERs and 28 SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian aircraft.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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