GA-ASI names new­est Preda­tor B vari­ant


Gen­eral Atomics Aero­nau­ti­cal Sys­tems Inc (GA-ASI), a lead­ing man­u­fac­turer of re­motely pi­loted air­craft (RPA) sys­tems, tac­ti­cal radars, and elec­tro-op­tic and re­lated mis­sion sys­tem so­lu­tions, launched a “Type-Cer­ti­fi­able” (STANAG 4571) ver­sion of its Preda­tor B prod­uct line, called SkyGuardian re­cently where dig­ni­taries from nine na­tions in­clud­ing the United King­dom, Italy, France, Aus­tralia, Bel­gium, the Nether­lands, Den­mark, Nor­way, and the United States were present.

SkyGuardian is the re­sult of a five-year-long com­pany funded ef­fort to de­liver a RPA sys­tem that can op­er­ate un­der the strin­gent air­wor­thi­ness re­quire­ments of non-mil­i­tary airspace. The air­craft lever­ages the legacy of the multi-mis­sion Preda­tor B fleet, which has amassed nearly two mil­lion flights hours. SkyGuardian can fly in ex­cess of 35 hours with air­speeds up to 210 knots, and reach al­ti­tudes of more than 14,000 me­tres.

“The SkyGuardian name re­flects the sys­tem’s role in pro­tect­ing ground forces, as well as its per­for­mance of non-mil­i­tary mis­sions like border sur­veil­lance, mar­itime pa­trol and re­lief over-watch in cases of nat­u­ral disas­ter,” said Lin­den Blue, CEO of GA-ASI.

SkyGuardian will be fully com­pli­ant with NATO’s UAV Sys­tem Air­wor­thi­ness Re­quire­ments (de­fined in STANAG 4671) and the UK DEFSTAN 00-970. GA-ASI also col­lab­o­rated with the LufABw (Ger­man Mil­i­tary Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity) to de­fine air­wor­thi­ness re­quire­ments for Ger­man Airspace. To fa­cil­i­tate qual­i­fi­ca­tion test­ing, GA-ASI is build­ing three com­pany-owned air­craft, along with two air­frames de­signed specif­i­cally for full-scale fa­tigue and static test­ing to sat­isfy type-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments. It plans to de­liver the first pro­duc­tion air­craft in 2018. The air­craft can host a va­ri­ety of sen­sor and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pay­loads and is ca­pa­ble of trans­mit­ting high-res­o­lu­tion video to manned air­craft and ground forces. The mar­itime pa­trol vari­ant of this sys­tem, des­ig­nated SeaGuardian, is de­signed to sup­port open ocean and lit­toral sur­face sur­veil­lance for border pa­trol, coast guard and disas­ter re­lief mis­sions.

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