General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA‑ASI) has flight-tested the MQ-9B SeaGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) over the sea-lanes off the coast of southern California.

This marks the first MQ-9B configured for surveillance operations over open-water. It was used to showcase the capabilities of MQ-9B in a maritime environment.

GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said: “The SeaGuardian’s debut demonstrated persistent situational awareness in the maritime domain for our customers.”

The test flights showed that SeaGuardian can be used for different naval missions, including surface search, subsurface search, littoral surveillance, anti-piracy, and search and rescue.

MQ-9B can work in all weather types and adheres to Nato Airworthiness type-certification standards for UAS STANAG 4671.

This feature and its collision-avoidance radar can offer flexible performance in civil (including ICAO) airspace.

The sensors on the aircraft include the GA-ASI Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and a Raytheon Intelligence & Space SeaVue Expanded Mission Capability (XMC) radar and a Multi-Spectral Targeting System.

A Leonardo Electronic Support Measure (ESM)/Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) SAGE 750, a Shine Micro Automatic Identification System (AIS), an Ultra sonobuoy receiver, and a General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada sonobuoy processor are also installed on the aircraft.

Last month, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) won a development contract from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) to provide naval propulsor hardware.

As per the contract, GA-EMS will provide manufacturing design drawings, engineering, fabrication, inspection, and assembly of the prototype propulsor.