First Trans-Atlantic Flight of a Male RPA Planned for July


According to our partner, AUVSI:

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) plans to make the first-ever trans-Atlantic flight of a Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) on July 10-11.

GA-ASI’s company-owned MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA is scheduled to fly from GA-ASI’s Flight Test and Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK.

GA-ASI has partnered with Inmarsat—the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications (SATCOM) services—for the trans-Atlantic flight. The MQ-9B’s ground control station will use Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband SATCOM to communicate and control the aircraft.

Additionally, the Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband SATCOM will also be used in the RPA’s final configuration for capabilities such as automatic takeoff and landing.

Following the flight, the MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA will be on static display from July 13-15 for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) airshow being held at RAF Fairford. According to GA-ASI, the flight and display will commemorate the RAF’s centenary celebration (RAF100).

“GA-ASI is proud to have supported the RAF over the past decade with our MQ-9 Reaper. In honor of the RAF100 celebration, and to demonstrate a new standard in RPA flight endurance, we will fly SkyGuardian across the Atlantic,” says Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI.

“Given the distinguished 100 year history of the RAF, we believe that this flight is an appropriate way to celebrate the RAF’s position as a leader in innovation.”

Last year, GA-ASI and the RAF marked the 10-year anniversary of RAF MQ-9 operations. The anniversary coincided with the RAF completing 100,000 flight hours with its Reaper force.

To date, the entire Reaper fleet, which is made up of more than 300 aircraft within the NATO alliance, has completed more than two million flight hours.

As part of its PROTECTOR RG Mk1 program, the RAF is acquiring MQ-9B SkyGuardian.