General Atomics‘ aeronautical systems business has flown the MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft in non-restricted airspace after the company received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The company said Friday the MQ-9B RPA flew a 275-mile trip that lasted approximately one hour and 45 minutes from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona to the Gray Butte Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, California.
MQ-9B is a variant of the Predator B unmanned aircraft system.
“This flight is another milestone in our progression towards delivering an RPA system that meets NATO airworthiness requirements for UAS,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI.
Blue added SkyGuardian can integrate into civil airspace operations worldwide if the platform receives international type-certification.
The U.K. air force is buying a weaponized version of the drone through the service branch’s MQ-9B PROTECTOR program, General Atomics noted.
MQ-9B will continue to undergo qualification tests over the next two years and the company expects to begin delivery of UAS to the Royal Air Force early next decade.