Multi-use NATO pod flies on MQ-9
In late November, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) flew the NATO pod, developed by it and Sener Aeroespacial, for the first time.
The NATO pod increases configuration and payload options for the MQ-9A and MQ-9B UAVs.
GA-ASI said the product was designed for international customers interested in 'rapidly integrating' sovereign payloads.
The pod was flown using an MQ-9A at Yuma Proving Grounds.
GA-ASI VP of mission payloads and exploitation Satish Krishnan said: 'We’ve worked closely with Sener to meet requirements and keep our combined teams in sync to achieve this great outcome.
‘Our successful test flight allows us to begin marketing this new capability to our international partner nations as a way to rapidly add sovereign payload capability.’
The NATO pod is a flexible and scalable enclosure with structural features designed to host a range of mission systems.
The pod connects with standard MQ-9 aircraft power and navigation interfaces, including the aircraft's platform data link to the ground control station.
GA-ASI said the industrial cooperation effort introduced European manufacturing of mission hardware and ‘opens the door’ to customer-specified mission payloads built outside the US.
The NATO pod tested featured a payload made by French Arpège SAS.
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