Progress on MQ-9 Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) completed the first-ever automated landing of an MQ-9 Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) on Aug. 7, which was followed a few days later by the first auto-takeoff on Aug. 9.
GA-ASI says that it developed the new Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) to “enhance mission capability.”
“This new, all-weather capability greatly increases the autonomy, flexibility, combat effectiveness and safety of the MQ-9 Reaper for the USAF,” explains David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI.
“Adding this level of automation will reduce the deployment burden of the warfighter and expand the scope of missions that can be flown by Air Force MQ-9s.”
The ATLC helps increase the safety and efficiency of the air crews by automating the takeoff and landing of the RPA. The auto launch and recovery capability during these important phases of RPA flight also “enlarges the operational envelope for cross wind operations as well as divert field landing,” according to GA-ASI.
GA-ASI says that the ATLC development program remains on track for fielding in the fall of 2019.
AUVSI News, September 18, 2018