General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA‑ASI) has conducted the first flight test of the Rosetta Echo Advanced Payloads (REAP) pod on an MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

The initial operational assessment was carried out in partnership with Air National Guard (ANG), the Air Force Reserve Command Test Center (AATC) and Ultra Electronics.

Known as REAP-1, the flight test was carried out in Syracuse, New York. It showcased the communications relay network for air and ground participants to experience smooth connectivity between them.

REAP pod supports Link 16, UHF/VHF radio and P25 public safety, as well as mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) waveforms.

According to information from ANG/AATC, an MQ-9 aircraft with REAP transmitted video from a Coyote small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) to a ground node located 110 miles away.

The process was carried out at the same time as the system linked voice communications over the MANET at long distances.

The ANG and AATC have planned to carry out another flight test with the REAP pod on the MQ-9 later this year.

The REAP-2 pod is expected to be completed in the middle of next year and will feature all the capabilities of REAP-1 along with 4G/LTE.

The addition of 4G/LTE is expected to provide disaster relief operations to the current military waveform relay and bridging capability.

GA-ASI president David Alexander said: “GA-ASI is really excited to showcase the communication capabilities of the REAP pod, which provides the backbone for warfighters to collaborate and share critical battlefield situational awareness.

“Our MQ-9, with its industry-leading persistent endurance, is the ideal platform for connecting sensors to shooters and realising USAF’s advanced battle management system (ABMS) vision.”

Earlier this month, General Atomics won the Agile Reaper Enterprise Solution (ARES) contract with a ceiling amount of $7.4bn.