GA-ASI begins MQ-9 demonstration in Greece

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has started a series of MQ-9B SeaGuardian demonstration flights at Larissa air base, Greece.

The demonstrations – which began on December 10 – will focus on GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SeaGuardian unmanned aerial system (UAS) and the company’s Detect and Avoid (DAA) platform. The flights are being hosted by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) and will showcase the maritime surveillance capabilities of the MQ-9.

Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI, said: “GA-ASI is highlighting the maritime surveillance and civil airspace integration capabilities of our unmanned aircraft for our European customers. Our long-endurance RPA (25-40 hours per sortie, depending on configuration) will be on display and provide insight into the importance of maritime patrol, as well as showcase our DAA avionics system that will support our goal of flying RPA in civil airspace.”

MQ-9B SeaGuardian [GA-ASI]
MQ-9B SeaGuardian, registration N308HK, at Larissa air base. GA-ASI

Demonstration flights will be performed for Greece and representatives from a number of unnamed European nations. A HAF official said: “The HAF looks forward to seeing the results of this demonstration. In addition to defence capabilities, these aircraft provide maritime patrol and EEZ [exclusive economic zone] monitoring, border surveillance, support for search and rescue efforts, and overwatch of forest fire response efforts.”

The MQ-9 will display its multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) mode, Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver and its high-definition/full-motion video sensor – which consists of optical and infrared (IR) cameras. The sensor provides real-time detection and identification of surface vessels across thousands of square nautical miles. The Guardian is also integrated with Raytheon’s SeaVue surface-search radar, which can track maritime targets constantly.

A rendering of the MQ-9B SeaGuardian. GA-ASI

The company will also demonstrate its DAA system, which consists of an air-to-air radar equipped with a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) – enabling unmanned flight in controlled and contested civil airspace – and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) software. 

GA-ASI is partnering with SES – a leader in satellite communications (SATCOM) operations – which will provide geostationary orbit (GEO) connectivity for the MQ-9. The partnership will enable the Guardian to be more effective, along with increasing its operational range through a high capacity data link.