General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully demonstrated the endurance capability of its new MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) system, which flew non-stop for more than 48 hours.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian took off from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, on 16 May, with 6,065lb of internal fuel.
The RPA system safely landed back on 18 May after completing a 48.2-hour-long non-stop flight, with 280lb of reserve fuel.
Commenting on the achievement, GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said: “This long-endurance flight is not only a significant achievement for our MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft but is also a very timely landmark event for our company as we celebrate 25 years of aviation innovation this year.
“GA-ASI continues to push the envelope with versatile, reliable, cost-effective, and combat-proven RPA systems and sensors, and this latest feat is a testament to our industry legacy.”
The aircraft was configured in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) ‘clean wing’ mode and flew at an altitude between 25,000ft and 35,000ft.
The SkyGuardian version of GA-ASI’s ‘Certifiable’ Predator B has been designed to operate under the stringent airworthiness requirements of non-military airspace.
The UK Royal Air Force is acquiring the weaponised variant of the RPA system, under the Protector programme.
A maritime patrol variant, SeaGuardian, has been designed to support open-ocean and littoral surface surveillance.
GA-ASI is designing the system in three variants, which will be able to fly in excess of 35 hours with airspeeds up to 210 knots and reach altitudes of more than 40,000ft.
Image: The SkyGuardian version of the ‘Certifiable’ Predator B has been designed to operate under the stringent airworthiness requirements of non-military airspace. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.