General Atomics (GA-ASI) : The MQ-9B SkyGuardian & SeaGuardian

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is the leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems. Over its more than 25 year history, GA-ASI has built 23 different variants of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have flown over five million flight hours, with 90 percent of those being combat flight hours. GA-ASI’s most recent and most advanced RPA variant is the MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian. 

MQ-9B builds on the legacy of all previous aircraft produced by GA-ASI and is truly remarkable in many ways. Incorporating a GA-ASI developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system, it is the world’s only fully-airspace integrated RPA/UAV that can be certified to fly in controlled and international airspace. This is the result of a five-year, company funded, development programme to deliver an RPA/UAV that can meet the stringent airworthiness type-certification requirements of various military and civil authorities. The MQ-9B’s DAA system consists of a Due Regard Radar (air-to-air radar), coupled with a Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), 

In 2017, the MQ-9B development aircraft set an endurance record for GA-ASI aircraft when it flew for more than 48 consecutive hours. This unprecedented level of endurance enables the MQ-9B to provide persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) at a significantly lower cost than manned aircraft. In addition, the MQ-9B has a range of over 6,000  nm. and is equipped with nine hard-points for sensor or weapons carriage with over 4,000 lbs. of available payload.

To commemorate the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) centenary celebration (RAF100), GA-ASI’s MQ-9B   completed the first-ever trans-Atlantic flight of a Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) RPA. The MQ-9B flew from Grand Forks, North Dakota to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK, covering 3,760 nautical miles in 24 hours, and landing with 40 percent fuel reserves. In 2017, GA-ASI and the RAF marked the 10-year anniversary of RAF MQ-9 operations that coincided with the RAF completing 100,000 flight hours with its Reaper force. The RAF is acquiring MQ-9B SkyGuardian as part of its Protector RG Mk1 programme. 

To date, GA-ASI has delivered over 850 aircraft, more than 300 GCS, and its aircraft operate worldwide. Every second of every day, there are 69 GA-ASI-delivered RPA airborne worldwide. 

Developed to fly in civil airspace, MQ-9B provides persistent situational awareness across vast maritime domains. It does this without putting aircrew at risk and at a significant cost effectiveness over manned aircraft alternatives. Interoperable with NATO, its multi-mission capability makes it a valued asset in a variety of scenarios – from environmental protection, to Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR), to Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), to Search and Rescue (SAR) overland and overwater Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance. (ISR).