GA-ASI contracts Hughes to upgrade SkyGuardian's SATCOM system


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has awarded a contract to Hughes Network Systems' Defense and Intelligence and Systems Division (DISD) to upgrade satellite communications (SATCOM) on its Type-Certifiable Predator B (TCPB) remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) system, SkyGuardian.

The contract includes upgradation of the SkyGuardian Certifiable RPA's SATCOM system with customised airborne Hughes HM series modems.

Hughes DISD vice-president and general manager Rick Lober said: "We are proud to have been selected for the SkyGuardian platform and its enhanced SATCOM capability.”

"With the development and supply of our customised HM series modem, aircraft operators and mission personnel will experience the benefits of protected SATCOM."

Using an enhanced waveform, the advanced modems are expected to increase data transfer rates. The waveform is said to ensure resilient and secure communications when operating in challenging environments.

Lober added: "With the development and supply of our customised HM series modem, aircraft operators and mission personnel will experience the benefits of protected SATCOM which includes the flexibility to employ the most appropriate frequencies for Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLoS) communication."

Designed to be compliant with Nato and UK airworthiness requirements, the SkyGuardian aircraft is capable of carrying a variety of sensor and communications payloads.

The aircraft can also transmit high-resolution video to manned aircraft and ground forces, GA-ASI stated.

GA-ASI's SkyGuardian can reach altitudes of more than 14,000m with airspeeds up to 210 knots.

The RPA system for the UK's Protector programme supports easy integration into segregated and non-segregated civil airspace operations around the world.