General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, and Rohde & Schwarz, the world's leading manufacturer of wireless communications, Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) test and measurement (T&M) equipment, and broadcasting equipment for digital terrestrial television, announced that they have signed a Teaming Agreement to integrate and flight demonstrate Rohde & Schwarz's air traffic control radios on the Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper® RPA.
The agreement supports both companies' efforts to add additional German and European content into Predator-series aircraft. At the same time, the integration of the Rohde & Schwarz radios also supports GA-ASI's effort to deliver a "Certifiable" Predator B RPA. GA-ASI is forecasting to deliver aircraft that are fully compliant with the airworthiness certification requirements of NATO customers, including STANAG 4671.
"We are continuing to integrate German and European payloads and communications systems into our aircraft while ensuring compliance with airworthiness standards," said Linden P. Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. "Rohde and Schwarz's expertise in the design, development, and production of radio communications systems that carry airworthiness certifications will bring us one step closer to achieving this goal."
"Our products provide users with a high degree of security and reliability in airborne radio communications," stated Scott Bausback, CEO, Rohde & Schwarz USA, Inc. "Together with General Atomics Aeronautical, we will develop both companies' capabilities regarding their technical state-of-the-art portfolios."
In the final design configuration, two radio systems will be placed in the aircraft, along with potentially another two radios in the Ground Control System (GCS). The R&S MR6000A from the successful Rohde & Schwarz VHF/UHF R&S M3AR airborne transceiver family is the first radio of its kind in the world that meets civil aviation certification requirements and ensures compatibility with military and civilian avionics specifications.
The first flight test of Predator B with a single R&S MR6000A radio system is scheduled for later this year at GA-ASI's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. The test will encompass verification of control and frequency management using the Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) communications path. In addition, GA-ASI foresees an adjunct demonstration of a radio relay and communication to dismounted soldiers should flight resources allow.
GA-ASI's Certifiable Predator B is envisioned to be a multi-nation, certifiable, exportable configuration built upon the company's Block 5 Predator B aircraft capabilities and Advance Cockpit GCS layout. In April 2013, the company expanded its relationship with its German partner, RUAG Aerospace Services GmbH, to allow for increased collaboration in establishing compliance with NATO airworthiness standards. Similarly, the radio certification effort with Rohde & Schwarz will be leveraged to market the aircraft jointly to U.S. and European government entities.