25 avril 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

MQ-9B SkyGuardian proposed as the right choice for RPAS in Canada

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)–a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems–continues the on-time development of its latest RPAS, the MQ-9B SkyGuardian. GA-ASI is designing MQ-9B as the next generation of multi-mission Predator B fleet and has named its baseline MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian.

As Canada looks to fulfil its RPAS project requirements, the multi-mission SkyGuardian stands out as the perfect solution. GA-ASI is collaborating with its Team SkyGuardian Canada teammates–CAE, MDA, and L3 Wescam–to deliver the perfect RPAS to Canada. The team combines the best of Canadian industry with the world's most advanced medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) RPAS to fulfil Canada's RPAS project requirements.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is acquiring SkyGuardian as part of its Protector RG Mk1 program and is scheduled for first delivery in the early 2020s. Belgium also selected SkyGuardian for its defence needs. The RPA is being considered as an option for the Australian Defence Force, which chose GA-ASI to supply the RPA system for Project Air 7003.

“MQ-9B is the world's only RPAS being developed to be certified to fly in non-segregated, controlled airspace,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “The development is the result of a five-year, company funded program to deliver an unmanned aircraft to meet the stringent airworthiness type-certification requirements of NATO and various civil authorities.”

As part of the certification effort, MQ-9B is being provisioned with a GA-ASI-developed detect and avoid (DAA) system. The DAA system consists of a due regard radar (air-to-air radar), coupled with a traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B).

The first-ever transatlantic flight of a MALE RPAS was accomplished in July 2018 as part of the Royal Air Force's (RAF) centenary celebration (RAF100). SkyGuardian flew from Grand Forks, N.D., to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, U.K., covering 3,760 nautical miles in 24 hours. Other recent achievements include:

  • Demonstration of SATCOM launch and recovery for MQ-9B using expeditionary command and control (XC2)–December 2018
  • First flight of the second MQ-9B SkyGuardian–September 2018
  • Integration of MQ-9B with GPS and GALILEO satellite systems–June 2018
  • Successful lightning tests on MQ-9B–May 2018
  • Demonstration of auto takeoff and landing using SATCOM for MQ-9B–December 2017

The MQ-9B set an endurance record for GA-ASI aircraft when it flew for more than 48 consecutive hours in April 2017. This is an unprecedented level of endurance that enables the MQ-9B to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) around the clock with an operating cost well below most manned platforms. MQ-9B has a range of over 6,000 nautical miles and is equipped with nine hard-points for sensor or weapons carriage with over 4,000 pounds of available payload.

SkyGuardian is capable of all-weather day/night operations. The cold weather engine start capability allows ground operations down to -41 C. These RPAS also have an electro-expulsive de-icing system (EEDS) for wing leading edges, anti-ice heated engine inlet, heated pitot tube and static ports, and lightning protection.

Interoperable with the U.S., FVEY and NATO, SkyGuardian's multi-mission capability makes it a valued asset in a variety of scenarios–including environmental protection, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, maritime domain awareness, search and rescue (SAR) and overland and overwater ISR.

To date, GA-ASI has delivered over 850 aircraft and more than 300 ground control stations. Every second of every day, close to 70 GA-ASI-delivered RPA are airborne worldwide.


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  • Irving to receive $58 million for 'minimal' changes to new Coast Guard ships

    10 février 2020 | Local, Naval

    Irving to receive $58 million for 'minimal' changes to new Coast Guard ships

    DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN Irving is receiving $58 million from taxpayers to make what the federal government calls minimal changes to an existing ship design so it can be used by the Canadian Coast Guard. Irving is in the midst of building a fleet of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) for the Royal Canadian Navy and will add two more in the production line for the coast guard. The addition of two ships for the coast guard, announced by the federal government in May, was supposed to be cost-effective as the design of the vessel was completed and the ships were in the process of being built. But documents recently tabled in Parliament show the government entered into a $58-million contract with Irving for engineering design work on the AOPS that would ensure the coast guard's vessels “can meet regulatory and operational requirements.” The coast guard has determined that only minimal modifications are required to the ships to meet its needs as well as any regulatory requirements, according to documents provided to Parliament as the result of a question from Conservative MP Lianne Rood. “The modifications have been assessed as minimal as none of the identified modifications will impact major elements of the AOPS design and construction,” Bernadette Jordan, the minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, stated in her written response. But critics are questioning why taxpayers are spending $58 million if the changes are so limited. “That's a very expensive tweak,” said Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “We'd like see some clarity from the government on what could possibly justify such an increase in the price tag.” Each AOPS is estimated to cost around $400 million. The coast guard originally looked at the AOPS in 2017-2018 but decided against acquiring the ship, industry representatives noted. But the Liberal government announced in May 2019 that two AOPS would be bought for the coast guard. One of the benefits of the purchase is to prevent layoffs at Irving as there is expected to be a gap between when the shipyard finishes the navy's AOPS and when it starts working on replacements for the navy's frigates. Tom Ormsby, director of communications for Irving, said the first step for the firm is to fully review the AOPS design and then confirm any modifications that are needed to be made for the coast guard. “Once modifications have been agreed to, these changes must then be worked through and implemented into the design,” he noted. “While not making major changes that a first-in-class design would require, the Canadian Coast Guard has a different and critical mission, including the need for scientific laboratories for sampling and research, so each vessel is being tailored to suit the Canadian Coast Guard's unique and important role.” The government only pays for actual costs incurred, he added. Irving will also receive an additional $18.8 million to purchase some initial equipment for the vessels as well as reimbursement for project management. The contract to Irving on the design changes was signed Nov. 1, 2019 and is to end March 31, 2021. Areas of change include modifications to the bridge layout and accommodations to meet Transport Canada requirements for a non-military crew, as well as changes to some areas to accommodate coast guard equipment and modifications to the deck, Jordan noted in her response to Parliament. The main portions of the ship, including the hull and propulsion systems, will remain unchanged, she added. The AOPS program was launched by the Conservative government with a minimum of five ships for the navy. The Liberal government approved the construction of a sixth AOPS for the navy and two for the coast guard But retired Liberal senator Colin Kenny, who served on the Senate defence committee, questions the value of the AOPS for either the navy or coast guard. Kenny noted he is also concerned about the engineering contract. “These changes shouldn't cost $58 million,” Kenny said. “I think it's questionable as to why we are even buying these ships.” In 2017 the Senate Defence Committee raised concerns about the capabilities of the AOPS. Among the issues identified by the committee was the slow speed of the AOPS and its limited ability to operate in ice-covered waters. “These limitations are troubling and raise the question of whether the taxpayers are receiving value for the monies spent,” the Senate report said. The Department of National Defence expects the delivery of the first AOPS by the end of March although it acknowledges there is a possibility that may not happen. The delivery of the vessel has already been delayed a number of times. The navy expects its last AOPS to be delivered by 2024. After the navy vessels are built, construction will begin on the AOPS for the coast guard, the federal government has said. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/irving-to-receive-58-million-for-minimal-changes-to-new-coast-guard-ships

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