Universal Soldier MQ-9 Reaper

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GA is the truly newsmaker in this days!

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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has successfully completed flight testing of a newly developed Self-Protection Pod (SPP) on an MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

The project was executed as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and with the support of the Air National Guard (ANG), the U.S. Navy (USN), and industry partners Raytheon Intelligence & Space, BAE Systems, Leonardo, Leonardo DRS, and Terma North America. The demo was held Oct. 28, 2020 at the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG).

During the testing, 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 system is built upon an earlier joint demonstration of a podded AN/ALR-69A(V) Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) in 2017, which demonstrated the utility of an RWR to enhance aircrew situational awareness. In addition to the RI&S AN/ALR-69A(V), the pod features the Leonardo DRS AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure (DAIRCM) System that utilizes a single sensor for both 2-color IR missile warning and wide field-of-view gimbal for threat countermeasures. The BAE Systems ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System is used for dispensing airborne flares, chaff, and other airborne decoys. The RF countermeasure of choice demonstrated successfully during testing was Leonardo’s BriteCloud Expendable Active Decoy (EAD), which is a small, self-contained Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM)-based expendable decoy.

At the heart of the Self-Protection Pod is 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.


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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems recently completed development and test of the world’s first self-contained Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability for an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

On November 24, GA-ASI successfully demonstrated an ‘A’ size sonobuoy carriage, release, process and control from a company-owned MQ-9A Block 5 on a U.S. Navy Pacific test range. Using a SATCOM link, GA-ASI remotely processed bathythermal and acoustic data from deployed ‘A’ size Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording (DIFAR-AN/SSQ-53G), Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System (DICASS-AN/SSQ-62F) and Bathythermograph (BT-AN/SSQ-36B) sonobuoys and accurately generated a target track in real time from the Laguna Flight Operations Facility located at Yuma Proving Grounds.

The MQ-9A Block 5 successfully deployed one BT, seven DIFAR, and two DICASS buoys to initiate prosecution and continuously track a MK-39 EMATT (Expendable Mobile ASW Training Target) over a three-hour period. Target track was generated using General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada’s industry-leading UYS-505 Sonobuoy Processing Systems. GA-ASI is developing this first-of-its-kind capability for its new MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAS in partnership with the U.S. Navy under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md.

“This demonstration is a first for airborne ASW. The successful completion of this testing paves the way for future development of more Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities from our MQ-9s,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “We look forward to continuing collaboration with the U.S. Navy as they explore innovative options for distributed maritime operations in the undersea domain.”

GA-ASI first demonstrated a sonobuoy remote processing capability in 2017 from an MQ-9A. Since then, GA-ASI has added a Sonobuoy Management & Control System (SMCS) to monitor and control deployed sonobuoys, and developed a pneumatic sonobuoy dispenser system (SDS) capable of safely carrying and deploying 10 U.S. Navy compliant ‘A’ size or 20 ‘G’ size sonobuoys per pod. The MQ-9B SeaGuardian has four wing stations available to carry up to four (4) SDS pods, allowing it to carry and dispense up to 40 ‘A’ size or 80 ‘G’ size sonobuoys, and remotely perform ASW anywhere in the world.


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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems completed the first Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) High Frequency (HF) Command and Control (C2) demonstration for an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The HF C2 capability does not require a Satellite Communications (SATCOM) link and is capable of providing BLOS connectivity up to 8,000 miles, depending on transmit power and link geometry.

For the demo, GA-ASI integrated the U.S. Government’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) autonomy software into the Open Operational Flight Profile (OFP) of an MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and flew the MQ-9 using improved diagonal tails with conformal HF antennas incorporated into the leading edges.

GA-ASI’s MQ-9 housed a FlexRadio Systems’ FLEX-6600 HF software-defined radio and associated hardware to translate and execute an autonomous mission plan. GA-ASI created a specialized HF software adapter to manage the unique latency and throughput constraints of the HF waveform to demonstrate BLOS command and control of the RPA.

The demonstration was flown out of Laguna Army Air Field/Yuma Proving Grounds on Dec. 16, 2020. The MQ-9 was commanded from Austin, Texas approximately 1,000 miles away over an HF C2 link.

 
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AN/AWW-14(V)

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Lc89

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If the Reaper is now capable of doing all of these things (ISR, AAW, ASuW, ASW, EW), think about the drone that will replace it. He could do what the US Navy initially envisioned with the Uclass program.
 

jsport

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does anyone ever address the crash rate of these products revealed in the wikileaks?
 

TomcatViP

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We have a dynamic database:
 

jsport

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Wiki-leaks of course are leaks of classified data not a published website.
 

drejr

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Wiki-leaks of course are leaks of classified data not a published website.

What if someone was to take information from Wikileaks and other sources and compile it into a...dynamic database? You could call it something like the "Drone Crash Database."
 

jsport

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great, but did they? wikileaks remains unconfirmed as it is classified, therefore those crashes most likely are not included.. we can go on and on. What if it is large fraction of craft that have crashed nd tht is why it classified.
What if, when one Air Force officer said sometime ago we are in the Model A timeframe of UAS. Why is the AF already looking to retire GlobalHawks while seeking a U-2 replacement and upgrades. Could it be these contractors drastically under perform but have real power to keep train goin?
Tube and wings are jokes.
 

Archibald

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Probably with Jean Claude Vandamne at the controls... we are lucky this is a drone...

"Je suis fasciné par l'air. Si on enlevais l'air du ciel, les avions tomberaient par terre. Et les oiseaux, aussi !"

'Un biscuit n'a pas de spirit. Mais dans un biscuit, y a du lait. Et des oeufs. Et les oeufs, c'est de la vie potentielle !"

 

AN/AWW-14(V)

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20210225-06_MQ-9A.jpg


A General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Block 5 remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) equipped with a newly developed Centreline Avionics Bay (CAB) flew for the first time on 3 February, the company announced on 24 February. The CAB provides space to incorporate critical new capabilities for GA-ASI customers.

Integration of the CAB began as GA-ASI needed space for new avionics on the MQ-9A, including company-developed detect and avoid (DAA) systems. In addition to the DAA system, GA-ASI will use the new avionics bay to pioneer artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications and establish an Ethernet network with the outer wing stations, to enable government open mission systems (OMS) protocols for rapid, flexible, and affordable integration of new mission capabilities. These upgrades will further expand an already broad menu of roles for the MQ-9A.

“The [CAB] was purpose-built to provide additional volume, platform infrastructure, and cooling provisions for integrating high performance computing (HPC) systems on MQ-9 Block 1 and Block 5 RPA,” explained GA-ASI VP of Strategic Development, J R Reid. “The CAB will enable the MQ-9 to host government OMS-compliant autonomy, machine learning and, eventually, artificial intelligence algorithms and applications. In addition to the HPC, we can work with customers on a broad range of capabilities with the additional space we get with the CAB.”

One example of a customer application for the CAB is the US Air National Guard’s GHOST REAPER concept, which establishes the MQ-9A as a critical, multi-source correlation engine in a contested fight. The capabilities being developed and integrated onto MQ-9A will also become the catalyst for the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct.

 

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71 MQ-9 to be upgraded to M2DO improved standard:
The Reaper fleet’s mission “is now shifting” from providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance/strike against Counter-Violent Extremist Organizations (C-VEOs) to missions in contested airspace, AFLCMC said.

The suite of new capabilities is “closely held,” but the first upgrade will be a self-protection anti-jam antenna system, the Air Force said. Other improvements will include Link 16, new weapons, “increased electric power,” and upgrades to the aircraft’s electro-optical and infrared systems. The aircraft will also have a new open-architecture design to facilitate rapid upgrades and improve “mission resiliency.”
 

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French Air Force MQ-9 Block 5 first operational mission In Mali:
The Reaper block 5 has improved video quality and connectivity, as well as a stronger weapon capacity since it will eventually be able to be equipped with both GBU 49 laser-guided bombs and hellfire missiles. Another development, the maintenance of this new model of drone is exclusively provided by French mechanics.

 

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The 174th Attack Wing, based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse (N.Y.) tested three new pods while deployed at Eielson AFB, part of an Air National Guard program known as the Ghost Reaper which aims to integrate the MQ-9 in the Joint All-Domain Command and Control system in a contested battlefield.

-Northrop Grumman’s Freedom Pod, which houses a communications gateway system that connects fourth and fifth generation fighters via Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL), Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), Link 16, and Tactical Targeting Network Technology.
-Ultra Electronics’ Rosetta Echo Advanced Payloads (REAP) pod, which improves targeting with improved connections to ground systems.
-General Atomics’ own Centerline Avionics Bay, which employs artificial intelligence and hardware expanding capabilities not originally built into the MQ-9 airframe.




 

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Completing the Info regarding the status of the French Mq-9 Reaper:

Le pôle drones, incarné par les General Atomics Reaper de la 33e escadre de surveillance, de reconnaissance et d’attaque est désormais au complet, avec 4 systèmes soit 12 drones (dont un loué au dollar symbolique), six Block 1 et six Block 5. Le commandant de base annonce une capacité armement sur Block 5 « cet été », limitée pour l’instant à la GBU-12. Le modèle prévu par le ministère des Armées prévoyait 8 systèmes MALE à l’horizon 2030 : ce sera difficile en l’état, vu les retards accumulés sur le MALE européen, qui n’a toujours pas de contrat de série.
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The drones component, embodied by the General Atomics Reaper of the 33rd Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Attack Wing is now complete, with 4 systems, i.e. 12 drones (including one rented for the symbolic sum of 1 dollar), six Block 1 and six Block 5.
The base commander announces a capacity to carry armament on Block 5 "this summer", limited for now to the GBU-12.
The plans from the Ministry of the Armed Forces were for 8 EU MALE systems by 2030. As it stands, it will be difficult given the delays accumulated on the European MALE, which still does not have a series contract.

 
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Grey Havoc

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Interesting that the new 'Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace' name still hasn't made any real traction.
 

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Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, testifying June 23 at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, said “what [the Air Force is] really doing is not decreasing the number of tails.” Rather, he explained, USAF is reducing the number of combat lines in maintains—lines that consist of several aircraft each—”so that [USAF] can have the ability to upgrade their capability and network their birds together in ways that we haven’t done before.”

 

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CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) --
The 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron proved the MQ-9 Reaper’s Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) is ready as of July 8, enabling crews to divert to airfields without traditional launch and recovery infrastructure or personnel. This capability is a key enabler for MQ-9 Agile Combat Employment and, combined with the MQ-9’s next software upgrade and receipt of the portable aircraft control station, will change how it will be employed in theaters worldwide.
[...]
The team again proved the capability [...] using the targeting pod to survey the runway, feed the ATLC system the data needed to fly an airport traffic pattern, land, and take off again.

Initially published ATLC procedures required an MQ-9 to be at the airfield of operation to taxi down the runway and have the aircrew electronically mark reference points when the aircraft was physically in position on the runway. The sorties proved that requirement obsolete. The technology and 556th TES-derived tactics are ready today for the aircraft to divert to a foreign field where an MQ-9 has never been before, and there is no longer a requirement for specialized infrastructure to land the unmanned aerial vehicle.

 
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The 489th Attack Squadron recently made history as the first attack squadron under the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing to utilize the MQ-9 Reaper’s Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) Aug 3, 2021, during a routine training flight.

ATLC is a key enabler for MQ-9 Agile Combat Employment and is expected to change how the MQ-9 will be employed in theaters worldwide. Previously, all ACC MQ-9 takeoffs and landings utilizing ATLC were tested by the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron [(see post above)].
[...]
As the Air Force continues to accelerate innovation, the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Enterprise may see it’s roles and capabilities evolve with the MQ-9 Reaper’s ATLC.

“ATLC is the next step in the evolution of this platform,” Travis said. “It allows us to focus on the capabilities that we need in the future. We’ll be able to deploy more rapidly to airfields that we haven't been able to access previously and do that in a way, that’s safe, repeatable and predictable for our joint partners and geographic combatant commands.”


As a side note, Fr AF (AdlAE) just dropped their first laser guided bomb operationally from their new MQ-9 block 5, reaching FOC:

 
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Amazing stats from the MQ-9 used by the AdlAE task force in Africa (in Fr):
En attendant, l’apport des drones MALE [Moyenne Altitude Longue Endurance] Reaper appartenant au standard Block 1 est indéniable. En 2020, ceux engagés au Sahel ont assuré 58 % des frappes aériennes [contre 29% pour les Mirage 2000 et 13% pour les hélicoptères d’attaque, ndlr] et près de 55% du renseignement aérien. Depuis qu’ils sont entrés en service, ces appareils, dont un a été perdu, ont effectué plus de 43’000 heures de vol, dont 92% au profit de la force Barkhane.
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[T]he contribution of the MALE [Medium Altitude Long Endurance] Reaper drones belonging to the Block 1 standard is undeniable. In 2020, those engaged in the Sahel carried out 58% of air strikes [against 29% for the Mirage 2000 and 13% for attack helicopters] and nearly 55% of all ISR missions. Since entering service, the aircraft, including the one that was lost, have flown more than 43,000 hours, 92 percent of which was for the Barkhane force.

 

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“We are the most requested asset,” said the sensor operator. “It makes me super proud to be a part of this squadron. As you know, we preach flexibility in the Air Force and our aircraft is the most flexible of all.”

Having the 46th EATKS here is essential for the mission control element back in America. They need assets down range to be close to any potential threats.

“We can easily track patterns of life, behavior and watch everyone without having boots on the ground,” said an MQ-9 Reaper pilot assigned to the 46th EATKS.

The MQ-9 Reaper can also conduct combat search and rescue.

“There have been times when a fighter jet or another asset has gone down and the MQ-9 is first on the scene,” said the pilot. “That’s priceless because the reaper has the ability to fly low and slow and loiter in an area to get a good picture of what’s happening on the ground. We can establish communication with the downed pilot to let them know what’s going on and advise them when to bed down and stay hidden until help has arrived.”

 

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"Our multi-orbit demonstration for remotely piloted aircraft delivered three times the throughput of the currently deployed SATCOM service using a terminal less than half the size while maintaining constant connectivity," said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager at Hughes Defense.

 

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