A U.S. Air Force component has ordered three remotely piloted aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from the aeronautical systems business of General Atomics.
The Air Force Special Operations Command transaction marks General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.‘s first U.S. contract for the MQ-9B SkyGuardian platform, the company said Monday.
GA-ASI designed SkyGuardian to automatically take off and land under satellite communications control alone, equipped the aircraft with proprietary detect and avoid technology and recorded over 40 hours of the vehicle’s performance to stay airborne.
AFSOC has used MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles in various global missions for the past 14 years. Its move to adopt the MQ-9B comes as the command aims to gain an aerial advantage in both permissive or denied operational environments through a UAS-based concept, dubbed Adaptive Airborne Enterprise.
General Atomics noted the U.K. and Belgium as international customers of SkyGuardian, while Japan procured the MQ-9B SeaGuardian, a maritime variant of the unmanned aircraft.