General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) announced on Thursday that it demonstrated new capabilities of MQ-9B SkyGuardian drone that includes automatic take-off and landing over SATCOM, rapid assessment and sharing of images captured by the drone, among others.
The demonstration was done on 16 August. It includes new Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS), automatic take-off, landing and taxi over SATCOM (satellite communication), Portable Pre/Post-Flight Equipment (P3E) and the Mission Intelligence Center.
The flight originated from Yuma Army Airfield in Arizona where the company crews flew SkyGuardian to Nevada and required no forward-deployed aircrew or Ground Control Station (GCS). The flight received FAA clearance to fly without a chase plane, and landed using Automatic Take-off and Landing Capability (ATLC) via SATCOM data link. It then taxied while still under satellite control from Yuma, before being turned over to GA-ASI’s Portable Pre/Post-Flight Equipment (P3E).
P3E is a laptop that allows a forward-deployed maintainer to use automated pre-flight checklists to reduce pre-flight times by up to 50 percent. This capability reduces the airlift requirements by eliminating the need for a forward-deployed GCS.
GA-ASI’s Mission Intelligence Station provides a suite of intelligence products generated by the aircraft, including the System for the Tactical Archival, Retrieval and Exploitation (STARE). Network enabled, the Intel Station allows for the rapid assessment and sharing of imagery by the Intelligence specialist assigned to the mission.