AFSOC Selects MQ-9B SkyGuardian for UAS Family of Systems Co
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Mar 7, 2023

AFSOC Selects MQ-9B SkyGuardian for UAS Family of Systems Concept

  • GA-ASI to Deliver Three Aircraft to First U.S. Customer

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. is proud to announce a new contract with U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to provide three MQ-9B SkyGuardian® remotely piloted aircraft systems to its first U.S. customer.

AFSOC’s acquisition of MQ-9B builds on more than 20 years as a GA-ASI partner and more than 14 years flying the MQ-9A Reaper, operating more than 40 aircraft in harsh environments around the world.

MQ-9B will feature a key role in developing AFSOC’s new Adaptive Airborne Enterprise (A2E) concept, which envisions AFSOC projecting air power for special operations forces from beyond the horizon, using a family of large UAS and expendable, small UAS from permissive to denied environments.

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“We’re very excited to continue our great partnership with AFSOC well into the future,” said David R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI. “MQ-9B is the ideal platform for inserting air-launched effects into potentially hostile environments. The MQ-9B’s combination of range, endurance, reduced manpower footprint, and overall flexibility will make it a true centerpiece of AFSOC’s future family of advanced UAS systems.”

MQ-9B represents the next generation of UAS, having demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours in certain configurations, automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM-only control, as well as a GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid System, among other upgrades. Its development is the result of a company-funded effort to deliver a UAS that can meet the stringent airworthiness certification requirements of various global military and civil authorities.

MQ-9B has garnered significant interest from customers throughout the world. After the UK Ministry of Defence selected MQ-9B SkyGuardian for its upcoming Protector program, the Belgian Ministry of Defense signed a contract for SkyGuardian. The Japan Coast Guard is currently operating MQ-9B in the SeaGuardian® configuration, which the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) also recently selected for its Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) RPAS Trial Operation Project beginning in April.



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