Maritime domain awareness in and around the Persian Gulf is not only vital to the powers responsible for the region – its implications touch every corner of the world.
This is why advanced militaries in the Middle East and North Africa are turning to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for their Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) missions and opting for the best and latest system. : the MQ-9B SeaGuardian.
The MQ-9B SeaGuardian transforms the depth and breadth of its users’ understanding of what is happening above, on, or below water with unparalleled endurance that breaks the boundaries of comparable manned systems enabling true persistent awareness. maritime role
In response to strong regional and global interest, an operational MQ-9B aircraft – not a scale model or replica – will be displayed at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition, UMEX, in Abu Dhabi in February.
Visitors will see an aircraft that is both familiar, given all the commonalities it shares with the MQ-9 Reaper and its well-tried siblings, but also with the critical capabilities that make it the backbone of forces. worldwide as the multi-role UAS leader in its class.
New aircraft, new capabilities
The SeaGuardian isn’t just bigger, with greater endurance, range and payload capacity. Its on-board equipment also sets it apart from all other drones.
The MQ-9B was the first aircraft of its type designed from the wheels up to be certifiable for use in mixed domestic airspace. Operators can seamlessly integrate with commercial or other air traffic, rather than needing special lanes, chasing aircraft or other arrangements. This means they can simply “throw and fly”, as the pilots say, unlocking great versatility over where and when to operate.
The Sense and Avoid System, the first of its kind, located in the nose of the MQ-9B, is part of what makes this possible. The sensors and equipment it contains allow the aircraft and its remote human operators to see the sky around it as a traditional aircraft does, while keeping safely clear of the rest of the world. traffic.
The versatility of the SeaGuardian means it can fly more easily, more frequently and more usefully than anything that has come before, allowing for flexible operations and putting the aircraft on real missions more often.
A highly sensitive electro-optical and infrared video sensor provides clear images any time of day or night. The aircraft’s multi-mode radar provides additional high quality detection at a distance and in many challenging conditions, including through smoke or haze. Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar capabilities make the system ideal for use at sea.
And when the SeaGuardian is equipped with its 360-degree maritime search radar, carried under the aircraft, it provides even greater awareness of surface activity.
The MQ-9B’s maritime capabilities don’t end at the surface, however. Its American manufacturer, based in San Diego General Atomics Aircraft Systems Inc., has also demonstrated the ability to release sonobuoys while integrated with other naval units, greatly increasing the volume of sea a task force can search. The SeaGuardian is today the only UAS of its type that can help hunt submarines.
There is no end to how operators can apply all this utility.
One of the most valuable assets is its ability to be present – always: the SeaGuardian’s approximately 30 hours of battery life means that users hardly ever have to break contact with targets of interest or stop observing important areas. Aircraft working as a team provide nearly non-stop situational awareness.
This means that it is very difficult for an adversary to muster forces or act unobserved. Even a small vessel that does not broadcast on the maritime Automatic Information System cannot avoid being detected from the air, identified and tracked if necessary. If ships meet on the high seas to exchange contraband – weapons, for example, or oil in violation of international sanctions – they cannot hide from SeaGuardian.
And as several international exercises and demonstrations have proven, the MQ-9B is a force multiplier when part of a larger networked multi-domain operating concept. The aircraft have proven they can track submerged or surface targets for the US Navy, enhance the common operational picture of international naval forces led by the Royal Navy and much more.
Protests in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Japan have also proven time and time again that the SeaGuardian is a game-changer when it comes to supporting naval, coastguard, customs, salvage and other operations.
These qualities have prompted a growing number of governments to acquire the MQ-9B, including Britain, Belgium, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and many others. The SeaGuardian on static display at UMEX responds to the strong interest in the aircraft and creates an opportunity for government and military leaders visiting Abu Dhabi to see it up close.