General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that its new MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) system, a “Certifiable” (STANAG 4671) version of its Predator B product line, has set a company record with the longest endurance flight of any Predator-series aircraft, the company said.
Configured in an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) “clean wing” mode, the company-owned MQ-9B aircraft took off from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, with 6,065 pounds of internal fuel. The aircraft flew between 25,000 and 35,000 feet for the duration of the mission and landed 48.2 hours later with 280 pounds of reserve fuel.
The company´s previous endurance record was held by Predator XP, which flew 46.1 hours in February 2015.
GA-ASI is currently building three company-owned aircraft and plans to deliver the first production aircraft next year. All three variants are designed to fly in excess of 35 hours with airspeeds up to 210 knots and reach altitudes of more than 40,000 feet.
GA-ASI, an affiliate of General Atomics, is a designer and manufacturer of RPA systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems. The company provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas.