General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully demonstrated its latest automatic take-off and landing capability (ATLC) for its MQ-9B SkyGuardian / SeaGuardian remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
Using a satellite communications (SATCOM) datalink, the GA-ASI team successfully performed the first taxi of the MQ-9B RPA, as well as six auto take-off and landing events.
The ATLC is designed to help remove the need for a ground control station and pilot / flight crew to be positioned at the aircraft’s base. This capability significantly reduces airlift requirements when the RPA is forward deployed.
The MQ-9B will become the first RPA with SATCOM-only launch and recovery element (LRE) functions when the MQ-9B Protector is delivered to the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in the early 2020s.
GA-ASI Aircraft Systems president David R Alexander said: “MQ-9B is continuing its momentous development, which now includes SATCOM taxi, take-off, and landing capability.
“When we partnered with the RAF to develop the world’s most advanced RPA, we identified SATCOM ATLC and SATCOM taxi as important safety and efficiency features, and we’re proud to have demonstrated it successfully using one of our capital aircraft.”
SATCOM ATLC allows for taxi, launch and recovery operations from anywhere across the globe and helps reduce required aircrew manpower and LRE footprints.