As part of the ongoing U.S. Air Force contract for MQ-9A Reaper modernization, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) demonstrated three expanded Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) enhancements that provide the MQ-9A with a dramatic increase in operational flexibility. The second enhancement expands the cross-wind limits of the MQ-9A. The third increases the maximum landing weight for normal and emergency landings. One enhancement enables the MQ-9A to land at an alternate or â€œdivert” airfield in which no Ground Control Station (GCS) is present, and under satellite communication (SATCOM) control.
â€œThis achievement will enable operational MQ-9A’s to land at alternate airfields, on their own, in case of inclement weather, changing mission requirements, or damaged runways,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. â€œThese upgrades will improve mission-effectiveness tremendously. All three enhancements provide MQ-9A aircrews with increased runway options, as well as expanded weather tolerances that greatly improve mission flexibility, operational availability and time on station. It will also lead to a substantial reduction in aircrew.”
Once uploaded to the MQ-9A’s mission profile, the MQ-9A aircrew enables the ATLC system, which allows the aircraft to automatically maneuver itself into a landing pattern and make the automatic landing. With the â€œdivert landing” enhancement, the remote pilot can enter the new landing area coordinates to automatically land at the selected location, or the pilot can overfly and self-survey the divert airfield’s runway using the MQ-9A’s multispectral Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor to obtain coordinates for automatic landing.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the PredatorÂ® RPA series and the LynxÂ® Multi-mode Radar. With more than six million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas.