General Atomics to give Predator B sense and avoid capability

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has successfully flight tested a prototype of its Due Regard Radar (DRR), which supports the company's airborne Sense and Avoid (SAA) architecture for the Predator B unmanned aircraft system, the company said Feb. 7.

Installed on a company-owned Predator B aircraft and controlled from the UAS' ground control station (GCS), the prototype DRR flight test occurred recently at the company's flight operations facility in Palmdale, Calif. The purpose of the test was to confirm the ability to integrate DRR onto a Predator B, as well as its ability to detect and track intruder aircraft, the company said.

During the flight test, a company-owned King Air aircraft flew in the role of the non-cooperative, “intruder” aircraft. DRR simultaneously detected and tracked the intruder, as well as multiple other aircraft in the vicinity, the company said. Using Actively Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology allows the radar to track multiple targets while continuously scanning the Field of Regard for potential new threats.

All the aircraft tracks were downlinked to the GCS via satellite communications and displayed real-time on an engineering Graphical User Interface. The tracks were correlated and validated with a radar feed from air traffic control.

The company continues to adapt the prototype DRR into a mature solution that can meet the full Field of Regard and accuracy requirements envisioned for flights in the national air space, the company said. Flight tests will continue on both unmanned and manned aircraft during 2013.

In related developments last year, the company successfully demonstrated an Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B)-based surveillance system aboard a Homeland Security Department/Customs and Border Protection Guardian (Predator B) UAS. Both ADS-B and DRR are envisioned to be sensors in the first airborne SAA architecture for Predator B.


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