More commonly known as drones, unmanned aerial systems have transformed modern society. This is particularly true in the realm of war and national security where these machines can more effectively gather and deliver intelligence while avoiding detection.
A new development has improved on existing technology to now allow for unmanned aerial systems to do something that no other aircraft in its class has been able to do in previous generations. A new innovation has been added to aircraft that is currently in use—the MQ-9B SeaGuardian—which will provide the ability for much shorter takeoffs and landings (STOL).
A manufacturer called General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc is responsible for building the MQ-9B currently in circulation, among other top medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft. GAAS is on presently on track to both design and develop an upgraded kit that will allow the MQ-9B to, indeed, operate from much shorter fields. Currently, expeditionary runways currently require a distance of about 3,500 feet. An upgraded MQ-9B will require only about 2,500 feet. That is, of course, a difference of 1,000 feet; nearly one-third shorter!
By adding this STOL capability, the MQ-9B will have more versatility than before but without having to sacrifice any of its central onboard sensors. This includes things like the electro-optical infrared sensor and multi-mode radar, among others. Effectively, this means the upgraded STOL kit will preserve the MQ-9B’s most essential, top-of-its—class, flagship capabilities while adding these useful applications that will improve operations while in conflict situations.
On top of this, the new system provides another revolutionary function. The upgrade retains the initial UAS capabilities, so users will not need to purchase multiple systems to maximize performance. The MQ-9B STOL simply adds a simple wing and tail upgraded tail kit that changes out its stock features for the new ones. In terms of maintenance, anyone can swap the kit out in a standard hangar or even in a flight line with just a few hours of standard ground support.