Australian MQ-9Bs to be equipped to SeaGuardian standard

by Gareth Jennings

The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s (GA-ASI’s) MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been approved for sale to Australia and will be delivered in the SeaGuardian maritime configuration, according to the sale notification, which was posted on 23 April.

The Leonardo Seaspray maritime search and track AESA radar, one of the primary sensors that differentiates the SeaGuardian from the SkyGuardian, is housed in the aircraft’s centreline pod. (GA-ASI)

The Leonardo Seaspray maritime search and track AESA radar, one of the primary sensors that differentiates the SeaGuardian from the SkyGuardian, is housed in the aircraft’s centreline pod. (GA-ASI)

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DSCA’s) approval of the sale included the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E V2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) over-water radar and Automatic Information System (AIS) for surface vessel identification that feature on the SeaGuardian. Australia had earlier been linked to a sale of the SkyGuardian variant of the MQ-9, which focussed on the overland mission.

“The proposed sale improves Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing timely intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), target acquisition, locate submarine capabilities, and counter-land and counter-surface sea capabilities for its security and defence,” the DSCA said, highlighting the platform’s proposed maritime role.

Besides the specific maritime equipment, the 12 approved MQ-9Bs will be fitted with the sensors and systems that are common to both the SeaGuardian and SkyGuardian, including Wescam MX-20 electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensors and Leonardo SAGE 750 electronic surveillance measures (ESM) systems. As noted by GA-ASI earlier, the MQ-9B’s sensor suite, augmented by automatic track correlation and anomaly-detection algorithms, enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.

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The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s (GA-ASI’s) MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have...

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