General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has flight-demonstrated a new self-protection pod for its MQ-9 range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the company announced on 22 January.
The Self-Protection Pod (SPP) that is compatible with both the MQ-9A Reaper and MQ-9B Sky/SeaGuardian UAVs, was demonstrated at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona on 28 October 2020. During the testing, the MQ-9 was able to successfully track radar and infrared (IR) guided surface-to-air missile threats, deploy countermeasures, and provide real-time threat awareness and protection in a simulated contested environment, GA-ASI said in a statement.
“SPP leverages mature (technology-readiness Level 9), state-of-the-art aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) to provide full-spectrum awareness and countermeasures,” GA-ASI said.
As noted by the company, the SPP has been developed as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and with the support of the Air National Guard (ANG), the US Navy (USN), and industry partners BAE Systems, Leonardo, Leonardo DRS, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, and Terma North America.
According to GA-ASI, the SPP is based on the Terma AN/ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system, which provides the interface, health, status, and command and control for the various systems installed in the pod. The AN/ALQ-213 functions as the ASE manager that coordinates between the various threat warning and dispensing systems to automatically dispense the appropriate sequencing pattern and expendables to protect the MQ-9.