General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) recently completed development and test of the world’s first self-contained anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability for a UAS, the company announced on 19 January.

In November, the company successfully demonstrated an A-size sonobuoy carriage, release, process and control from a company-owned MQ-9A Block 5 UAS. Using a SATCOM link, GA-ASI remotely processed bathythermal (BT) and acoustic data from deployed DIFAR AN/SSQ-53G, DICASS AN/SSQ-62F and BT AN/SSQ-36B sonobuoys, accurately generating a target track in real time.

The MQ-9A Block 5 successfully deployed one BT, seven DIFAR, and two DICASS buoys to initiate prosecution and continuously track a training target over a three-hour period. Target track was generated using General Dynamics UYS-505 Sonobuoy Processing Systems. GA-ASI is developing this first-of-its-kind capability for its new MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAS in partnership with the US Navy.

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,” commented GA-ASI President David R Alexander.

GA-ASI first demonstrated a sonobuoy remote processing capability in 2017 from an MQ-9A. Since then, the company has added a sonobuoy management and control system (SMCS) to monitor and control deployed sonobuoys, and developed a pneumatic sonobuoy dispenser system (SDS) capable of safely carrying and deploying 10 A-size or 20 G-size sonobuoys per pod. The MQ-9B SeaGuardian has four wing stations available to carry up to four SDS pods, allowing it to carry and dispense up to 40 A-size or 80 G-size sonobuoys, and remotely perform ASW anywhere in the world.

In a standard Maritime ISR and ASW configuration, SeaGuardian’s endurance exceeds 18 hours, encompassing a mission radius of 1,200nmi with eight hours of on-station time for submarine prosecution, providing a low-cost complement to manned aircraft for manned-unmanned teaming operations. GA-ASI has already received orders for this MQ-9B SeaGuardian ASW capability from two separate foreign customers, and anticipates demand to be extremely strong for the high-end maritime capabilities and low cost relative to legacy manned maritime platforms.

The SeaGuardian will empower small and large fleets alike once the ASW function has been fully integrated and proven. (Photo: GA-ASI)

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