General Atomics MQ-9B. Photo courtesy of General Atomics
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems successfully showed off the satellite-controlled launch and recovery capabilities of its MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft, aiming to eliminate the need for a ground control station and crew at the base from which it takes off.
Conducted in December 2017, the demonstration consisted of six auto takeoff and landing events as well as taxiing controlled only by satellite communications datalink. The MQ-9B SkyGuardian used in the test departed from Laguna Army Airfield in Yuma, Arizona, while the ground control station operated it from the company’s facilities in Palmdale, California.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems claims its remote launch and recovery system will make deploying remotely piloted aircraft both cheaper and easier. It expects to deliver the first production model with the system installed to the UK Royal Air Force in the early 2020s in the form of the MQ-9B Protector.