General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is integrating its SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) with L3 WESCAM’s MX-20 electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) imaging system.

WESCAM’s MX-20, which is also being incorporated onto the MQ-9 Reapers operated by Nato countries, features high-sensitivity multi-spectral sensors.

The MX-20 system has been designed for high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations and persistent surveillance missions, as well as deployment onto long-range maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

It has already proven its effectiveness in different environments and weather conditions in Canada.

L3 WESCAM vice-president and general manager Jacques Comtois said: “Team SkyGuardian is a significant benefit to L3 WESCAM and provides more opportunities for the modular growth path of the WESCAM MX-20 as mission portfolios evolve and the battlespace continues to change on a global scale.

“MX systems are the eyes of customers across more than 80 countries worldwide.”

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In May 2018, GA-ASI partnered with CAE Canada, L3 Wescam, and MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA) to officially launch Team SkyGuardian Canada.

The team aims to offer the MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft for Canada’s medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) RPAS project.

“The MX-20 integration on MQ-9 builds on our successful integration of the WESCAM MX-15 onto our Predator XP aircraft.”

Combining the best of Canadian industry with the SkyGuardian, the team seeks to provide a single solution to fulfil the country’s RPAS project requirements.

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft has a gross take-off weight of 5,700kg and can remain airborne and un-refuelled for more than 40 hours.

Capable of operating in distant northern latitudes, the drone can carry wide-area maritime radars, long-range, high-definition-video, and other sensor payloads.

GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said: “Integrating capabilities from L3 WESCAM and our other Team SkyGuardian partners, CAE and MDA, provides the most capable RPAS solution and the best economic value for Canada.

“The MX-20 integration on MQ-9 builds on our successful integration of the WESCAM MX-15 onto our Predator XP aircraft. Taking advantage of our close North American relationship, our companies can cooperate to provide unprecedented levels of innovation and business opportunity with our RPAS.”