General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Sener have announced the development of a Nato Pod for the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

The two companies have partnered since 2008 and led to agreements associated with the MQ-9A.

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The pod will be designed and constructed by SENER Aeroespacial. GA-ASI will be responsible for its integration onto the MQ-9 aircraft line to boost the configuration and payload options.

The development of the Nato Pod is driven by the GA-ASI initiative, which aims to offer customers with personalised capsules for sovereign, cross-domain intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors.

The sensors can be integrated with GA-ASI’s MQ-9A and MQ-9B RPA systems.

GA-ASI has partnered with European suppliers to include sensor functionality to the new European manufactured payload pod.

The Nato Pod is a flexible, expandable, certified, aerodynamic and low-cost enclosure. Customers can use a common interface to the aircraft system to add their sovereign sensor capabilities.

The system definition and specification phase along with the Critical Design Review have been completed. Currently, SENER Aeroespacial is working on the detailed design phase.

Sener Group president Andrés Sendagorta said: “Since the beginning in 2008, the relationship between GA-ASI and SENER has been based on the existence of a common corporate philosophy where the technological component represents a fundamental link.

“This has led to an alliance in which the development of value-added products and technology by Sener has been applied to meet the demanding needs of GA-ASI over the years and, particularly, now with the Nato Pod that will be integrated onto the MQ-9 line.

“As we have stated on previous occasions, and once the first system of this type has come into operation in Spain, Sener reiterates its commitment to make available to the Spanish Ministry of Defence its capabilities and strengths in support of national industry through alliances, industrial cooperation and the development of an increasingly wide range of products.”