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General Atomics launches industry team for armed UAS project

written by Robert Nutbrown | February 28, 2017
A digital image of how the MQ-9 Reaper could look in RAAF markings.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has formally launched its ‘Team Reaper Australia’ solution for the AIR 7003 armed unmanned aircraft project with Australian teammates Cobham, CAE Australia, Raytheon Australia and Flight Data Systems.

“Our offering for AIR 7003 is a system that provides persistent situational awareness with a bite; another way of saying long-endurance armed reconnaissance,” said Linden Blue, chief executive officer of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, speaking during the opening of the US Pavilion at the Avalon Airshow on Tuesday.

General Atomics has not made a final decision on what specifically it will offer, and at this stage could put forward either the existing US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper or the Type-Certifiable Predator B (marketed as the SkyGuardian), which the USAF has designated as the MQ-9B.

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Cobham will be focusing on through-life support and training; CAE Australia brings its simulator expertise to the team; meanwhile Raytheon Australia will be responsible for the MTS-B electro-optical/infrared payload; and Flight Data Systems will be providing a flight data recorder.

“Cobham and GA-ASI have been working in partnership for more than 12 years to prepare for the whole-of-life support requirements for Australian armed [remotely piloted aircraft systems],” said Peter Nottage, president of Cobham Aviation Services.

Blue said that General Atomics is also seeking a range of other capabilities from local industry including: supply chain partners; sensor partners, especially in the electronic warfare and signals intelligence field; companies that can help with the integration of unmanned aircraft into non-military airspace; and industry players working on the automation of data exploitation processes.

Sir Angus Houston, chair of the Defence SA Advisory Board, said that he expects much of the in-country support for the platform will be centred in South Australia.

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“I understand the aerospace support facilities provided in South Australia, particularly those centred around the Edinburgh Defence Precinct, will play a vital role,” he said.

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