FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jul 15, 2004
19 July 2004 – Farnborough, United Kingdom. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, announced today that the Mariner Demonstrator unmanned aircraft deployed to Alaska on 8 July in support of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Concept of Operations Development tests. The aircraft, equipped with maritime surface surveillance radar, a USCG-developed Automatic Identification System and television and infrared cameras has provided real-time surveillance of the coastal waters surrounding southern Alaska.
The Mariner Demonstrator took off from the company’s airport at El Mirage near Adelanto, California on 8 July 2004 at 0100 on an instrument flight plan to Alaska, some 2,400 miles away. The aircraft climbed to and cruised at 45,000 feet for the transit. The route of flight was over the San Luis Obispo, California area, then north west over the eastern Pacific Ocean through Canadian airspace to King Salmon, Alaska. In route, the Mariner pilot was in contact with U.S. and Canadian air traffic controllers. After take-off, mission control of the aircraft which is accomplished through a satellite, shifted to the USCG Command Center site at Juneau, Alaska. Control was then passed to a company portable ground control station at King Salmon where the aircraft landed. During the flight, Mariner sensor video was sent via a USCG data distribution system to USCG operational sites across the United States, including Washington, DC where several high ranking USCG officials observed this historic flight in real-time.
The purpose of the deployment is to provide Concept of Operational Support to the USCG. As of today, three flights have been accomplished and have averaged 12 hours each. Upon arrival in Alaska, the USCG was contacted by the Alaskan Governor’s office requesting the USCG to provide immediate emergency assistance to over fly the wild fires burning in central Alaska which have burnt over 1.2 million acres. Because these flights were not planned in advanced, they required exceptional coordination between a host of government and state agencies in addition to understanding the hazards associated with flights in this environment. The company agreed to support the USCG endeavor. Never in Aviation History has a beyond-line-of-sight High/Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV flown at a greater Northern latitude. The State Fire Officials who viewed the imagery real-time, have had nothing but glowing remarks for the support of the team in mapping newly developed fires that threaten communities in the interior of Alaska. Additionally, as the Mariner left the immediate vicinity of the fires, it was re-tasked in flight to survey the Alaska Pipeline and transition to provide maritime patrol of the Valdez inlet where several vessels were tracked.
Based on the Predator B series aircraft, the Mariner Demonstrator incorporates the fuselage of the ALTAIR aircraft that has an 86 ft. wing span and a maritime radar pod. This configuration has been operational since early 2004.
Headquartered in San Diego, California, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. was established in 1993 and currently employs over 1,000 people located in over six locations around the world. The company is completely focused on the design, development and employment of proven unmanned aircraft systems for customers throughout the world. Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr. is President and Chief Executive Officer.
For more information or photos, please visit our website at www.uav.com.
For more information contact:
Public Relations Department
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.