General Atomics‘ aeronautical systems unit showcased an automatic takeoff and landing capability for the MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian remotely piloted aircraft via a satellite communications datalink.
The company said Monday operators of an MQ-9B SkyGuardian controlled the aircraft outside General Atomics’ Gray Butte Flight Operations Center in Palmdale, California while the platform flew out of the Laguna Army Airfield near Yuma, Arizona using a Satcom link to taxi the aircraft and perform six automatic takeoff and landing sequences.
The ATLC feature will help remove ground control station, pilot and flight crew requirements at the MQ-9 aircraft’s base when the RPA undergoes forward deployment, noted General Atomics.
“When we partnered with the [U.K. air force] to develop the world’s most advanced RPA, we identified Satcom ATLC and Satcom taxi as important safety and efficiency features,” said David Alexander, president of aircraft systems at GA-ASI.
General Atomics noted Satcom ATLC provides platforms a capacity to conduct taxi, launch and recovery missions around the world and cut the aircrew manpower needed for such operations.