skip to main content

General Atomics signs up AFSOC as first US customer of MQ-9B

AFSOC will employ the MQ-9B in the armed overwatch role. (General Atomics)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has secured US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) as the first US operator of its MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

AFSOC is to acquire three systems comprising an undisclosed number of air vehicles, as it looks to enhance its unmanned overwatch capability currently conducted with the MQ-9A Reaper.

GA-ASI did not disclose a contract value or a delivery timeline.

The SkyGuardian (known as SeaGuardian in its maritime fit, and as Protector for the UK) has a maximum operating altitude of 45,000 ft (compared with 50,000 ft for the Reaper), a maximum endurance of more than 40 hours (compared with 27 hours for the Reaper), and a maximum airspeed of 200 kt (compared with 240 kt for the Reaper). It also has nine external stores/stations, compared with five for the Reaper.

AFSOC will join Belgium, India, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates in operating the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAS.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...