General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) said today it recently flew a company-owned MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) equipped with a newly developed Centerline Avionics Bay (CAB), for the first time.
The CAB provides space to incorporate critical new capabilities for GA-ASI customers.
Integration of the CAB began as GA-ASI needed space for new avionics on the MQ-9A, such as company-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system. In addition to the DAA system, GA-ASI will use the new avionics bay to pioneer Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) applications and establish an Ethernet network with the outer wing stations to enable government Open Mission Systems (OMS) protocols for rapid, flexible, and affordable integration of new mission capabilities. These upgrades will further expand an already broad menu of roles for the MQ-9A.
“The Centerline Avionics Bay was purpose-built to provide additional volume, platform infrastructure, and cooling provisions for integrating High Performance Computing (HPC) systems on MQ-9 Block 1 and Block 5 RPA,” said GA-ASI Vice President of Strategic Development J.R. Reid. “The CAB will enable the MQ-9 to host Government OMS-compliant Autonomy, Machine Learning and eventually, Artificial Intelligence algorithms and applications. In addition to the HPC, we can work with customers on a broad range of capabilities with the additional space we get with the CAB.”
One example of a customer application for the CAB is the Air National Guard’s Ghost Reaper concept, which establishes MQ-9A as a critical, multi-source correlation engine in a contested fight. The capabilities being developed and integrated onto MQ-9A will also become the catalyst for the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct.