General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has evaluated its pre-production due regard radar (DRR) onboard a Predator B remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA), marking a major technological advancement towards integration of RPA into international and domestic airspace.
The multiple flight tests were undertaken at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility and Edwards Air Force Base in California, US. They saw Predator B operating in scripted encounters against multiple small- and medium-sized manned aircraft, while the pre-production DRR simultaneously tracked multiple targets and continued to search a wide field-of-regard.
GA-ASI Aircraft Systems president Frank Pace said: "This flight test is the culmination of more than four years of radar development activity.
"DRR will allow users to operate Predator® B independently in international airspace without the need for land-based, sea-based, or off-board airborne airspace surveillance, offering our customers greater freedom of movement around the globe."
GA-ASI Mission Systems executive vice-president Claudio Pereida said: "This latest flight test aboard an RPA is a significant milestone in the continued maturation of our DRR air-to-air radar programme that began in 2011."
The DRR is claimed to be the first fully-functional air-to-air radar on an RPA that addresses the requirements for ‘due regard’ operations in international airspace.
The pre-production radar, along with other GA-ASI’s due regard components, is currently at technology readiness level (TRL) 7, which enables the customers to conduct an operational test and evaluation (OT&E).
In addition, the company’s sense and avoid (SAA) system is currently at TRL 6 and will mature following incorporating all of the requirements being developed by Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics Special Committee 228. The system comprises the DRR and traffic collision avoidance system II capabilities,
Throughout this year, the integrated SAA system will fly aboard NASA’s Predator B aircraft in support of a series of flight tests that will measure its performance in varied scenarios.
Image: G-ASI has evaluated its pre-production due regard radar onboard a Predator B remotely piloted aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Gerald L Nino.