MQ-9 Guardian Maritime Patrol Concept; Delivering Sonobuoys

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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. has introduced a new sonobuoy capability for its MQ-9 Guardian maritime unmanned air vehicle which, alongside a number of other developing technologies, could make it a contender to help fill the UK’s maritime patrol gap.

A concept was presented at the Royal Navy’s maritime awareness conference at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall on 24 September, which showed a number of sonobuoys being released from a bay on the UAV.

While a requirement for a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) acquisition has yet to be released from the UK government, the developments that General Atomics is incorporating into the MQ-9 suggests that it will look to offer a modified Guardian to complement a manned MPA that is expected to be procured.

The new sonobuoy capability has been developed alongside Ultra Electronics over two years, Jonny King, director for General Atomics’ UK division, says.

“What we’re really looking at is a Predator B carrying sonobuoys, controlling them, and sending sonobuoy information back to the ground station over a SATCOM link,” King says.

“The work has seen us put the system together in a lab and carry out ground testing and prove it end to end. We were ready to go flying in 2015, but the aircraft were diverted to more urgent work. So we will be flying this early in the new year to prove the system.”

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Taranis stealth drone may see final test flights later this year

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Britain’s top secret stealth drone will complete its third and possibly final round of test flights later this year, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The £200 million Taranis programme, making the most advanced aircraft ever built by British engineers, will have achieved all its objectives if this year’s trials go well, officials said. No decision has been made on further tests.

The remotely-piloted drone, constructed by BAE Systems, is a “combat vehicle demonstrator” to test and develop technology for future generations of fighters and unmanned vehicles.

Though unarmed it is expected to provide the basis for future fleets of supersonic stealth drone bombers that can attack deep into enemy territory, while evading sophisticated defences.

Tests on the unmanned aircraft named after the Celtic god of thunder have included “simulated weapon release”.

Taranis has already completed two sets of test flights and officials have released film of it flying from but an unnamed location, believed to have been in Woomera, Australia.

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