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.