Predator demonstrates sovereign payload capability
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA ASI) has announced that along with Selex Galileo and Cobham, the Predator UAV has carried out a Sovereign Payload Capability Demonstration (SPCD) at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facilities in Palmdale, US. The demonstration is a significant milestone for the company’s operational independence and open payload architecture goals for the Predator UAV.
GA-ASI said that the event included a live flight demonstration over the Pacific Ocean of a GA-ASI Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper UAS fitted with a Selex Galileo Seaspray 7500E surveillance radar and showcased the radar’s ability to track targets on land, in the littoral and maritime environments, and from air-to-air. Officials from the US Air Force, US Department of Homeland Security, and the Ministries of Defence of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands were in attendance for the flight.
GA-ASI and Selex Galileo are conducting the SPCD as a joint Independent Research and Development (IRAD) effort to ‘prove the concept and architecture for a fully certified Predator B incorporating a separate mission management system that supports the independent and cost-effective upgrade of future sovereign payloads’. GA-ASI performed the software and hardware modifications to the Predator B system to implement the open payload architecture, while Selex Galileo delivered the radar and supported the integration work. Cobham provides support to UK airworthiness procedures and through-life support as GA-ASI’s teammate in the UK responsible for whole life support arrangements for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) MQ-9 Reaper UAS.
According to GA-ASI, initial testing of the new architecture was completed in September 2011, demonstrating the ability to host third party-developed payload control software on existing airborne and Ground Control Station (GCS) processors. The SPCD is the first phase in the flight demonstration process, with future phases envisioned to demonstrate systems integration independent of GA-ASI’s involvement.
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