Flight Test Validates Concept for Safe Integration of RPA in National Airspace
SAN DIEGO – 7 February 2013 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, today announced the successful flight test of a prototype of its Due Regard Radar (DRR), a company-funded air-to-air radar system that supports GA-ASI’s overall airborne Sense and Avoid (SAA) architecture for Predator® B RPA.
“Detecting airborne vehicles not equipped with transponders will be key to safely integrating RPA into the National Airspace System [NAS],” said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “The prototype Due Regard Radar is a critical component of GA-ASI’s Sense and Avoid system, facilitating collision avoidance onboard the aircraft andallowing the pilot to separate the RPA from other air traffic in cooperation with Air Traffic Control [ATC].”
Installed on a company-owned Predator B aircraft and controlled from the RPA’s Ground Control Station (GCS), the prototype DRR flight test occurred on December 10, 2012 at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. The purpose of the test was to confirm the ability to integrate DRR onto a Predator B, as well as its ability to detect and track intruder aircraft.
During the flight test, a company-owned King Air aircraft flew in the role of the non-cooperative “intruder” aircraft. DRR simultaneously detected and tracked the “intruder,” as well as multiple other aircraft in the vicinity. Using Actively Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology allows the radar to track multiple targets while continuously scanning the Field of Regard (FOR) for potential new threats. All the aircraft tracks were downlinked to the GCS via satellite communications and displayed real-time on an engineering Graphical User Interface (GUI). The tracks were correlated and validated with a radar feed from ATC.
“GA-ASI is excited to be advancing Sense and Avoid technology, not only in developing new systems, but also in helping define standards and working with our industry partners,” added Linden Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, GA-ASI.
GA-ASI continues to adapt the prototype DRR into a mature solution that can meet the full FOR and accuracy requirements envisioned for flights in the NAS. Flight tests will continue on both RPA and manned aircraft during 2013.
In related developments last year, GA-ASI successfully demonstrated an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)-based surveillance system aboard a U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Guardian (Predator B) RPA. Both ADS-B and DRR are envisioned to be sensors in the first airborne SAA architecture for Predator B.
High-resolution photos of Predator B are available to qualified media outlets from the GA-ASI media contact listed below.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, delivers situational awareness by providing remotely piloted aircraft, radar, and electro-optic solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft systems, including Predator A, Predator B, Gray Eagle®, and the new Predator C Avenger® and Predator XP. It also manufactures a variety of solid-state digital Ground Control Stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar and sophisticated Claw® sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and remotely piloted aircraft. It also develops and integrates other sensor and communication equipment into manned ISR aircraft and develops emerging technologies in solid-state lasers, electro-optic sensors, and ultra-wideband data links for government applications. For more information, please visit www.ga-asi.com.
Predator, Gray Eagle, Avenger, Lynx, and Claw are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
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Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.