General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully finished the demonstration of the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) self-contained anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.

The demonstration marks the completion of development and testing of the capability that enables a UAS to remotely perform ASW anywhere across the globe.

In November last year, GA-ASI MQ-9A Block 5 deployed ten sonobuoys of different types on a US Navy Pacific test range.

The company remotely processed bathythermal and acoustic data from the buoys using a SATCOM link.

The deployed buoys comprised seven DIFAR-AN/SSQ-53G ‘A’ size Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording buoys, two DICASS-AN/SSQ-62F Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy Systems, and one BT-AN/SSQ-36B Bathythermograph sonobuoy.

GA-ASI said that it is developing the advanced capability for its new MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAS in collaboration with the US Navy.

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It is part of a ‘Cooperative Research and Development Agreement’ with Naval Air Systems Command Patuxent River.

GA-ASI president David R Alexander said: “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.

“We look forward to continuing collaboration with the US Navy as they explore innovative options for distributed maritime operations in the undersea domain.”

The company said that two international customers have already placed orders for this MQ-9B SeaGuardian ASW capability.

The UAS can carry up to four sonobuoy dispenser system (SDS) pods. This implies that the aircraft has at its disposal up to 40 ‘A’ size or 80 ‘G’ size sonobuoys to carry and dispense.

In April last year, US Marine Corps (USMC) conducted maiden operational flight of an MQ-9A Reaper UAS in the Middle East.