General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully completed the flight testing of a newly developed self-protection pod (SPP) on an MQ-9 remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA).
The firm announced the milestone in a press release that was issued on January 22, which confirmed that the demonstration was held at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona and took place on October 28, 2020. It adds that during the tests, “the MQ-9 was able to successfully track radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) missile threats, deploy countermeasures, and provide real-time threat awareness and protection in a simulated contested environment.”
The project was completed as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), with support from the Air National Guard (ANG) and the US Navy. BAE Systems, Leonardo, Leonardo DRS, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, and Terma North America were also involved in the campaign, serving as industry partners.
David R Alexander, president of GA-ASI, said: “Threat awareness and survivability are critical capabilities needed to enable the MQ-9 to operate in a contested environment. GA-ASI is committed to expanding the mission envelope of the MQ-9 to enable not only the warfighters’ needs of today, but also to ensure the platform remains a survivable, capable, and highly adaptive platform for the future fight.”
GA-ASI states that the newly developed SPP “leverages mature (TRL9 [or technology-readiness level 9]), state-of-the-art aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) to provide full-spectrum awareness and countermeasures.” The pod features BAE Systems’ ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser system, Leonardo DRS’ AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture IR Countermeasure (DAIRCM) suite, Raytheon’s AN/ALR-69A(V) radar warning receiver and Terma’s AN/ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system. It also employs Leonardo’s BriteCloud digital RF memory (DRFM)-based expendable active decoy.