UAS & Robotics

Predator drone to get NATO-worthy Euro radio

Predator B Reaper

Drone maker General Atomics said this week it will join forces with Rohde & Schwartz to integrate the communications specialist's air traffic control radios into the Predator B MQ-9 Reaper unmanned vehicle.

The deal announced during the Berlin Air Show supports efforts to add European components to Predator-series unmanned systems, General Atomics said. Unmanned aircraft developed under the program are expected to receive NATO airworthiness certification.

General Atomics CEO Linden Blue said the drone maker is continuing to integrate German and European payloads and communication systems into its unmanned aircraft in order to meet European airworthiness standards. Most Rohde & Schwartz communication systems include airworthiness certification.

A growing issue for unmanned system makers is securing RF communications. The partners said they would install at least two radios on the Predator B MQ-9 with an option to install two others as part of a Ground Control System. Rohde & Schwartz said its M3AR airborne transceivers meet civil aviation certification requirements and are compatible with military and civilian avionics requirements.

The partners said the first flight test of the Predator B carrying a single Rohde & Schwartz radio is scheduled for later this year at General Atomics' flight operations center facility in Palmdale, Calif. The flight test will verify vehicle control and frequency management using beyond-line-of-sight communications, the companies said.


About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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