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General Atomics Equips MQ-9A Drone With Seaspray Radar

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has announced that it has integrated the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E V2 multi-mode radar into an MQ-9A unmanned aerial vehicle.

The latest variant of the Seaspray Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar series, the 7500E V2 features updated processor and receiver technology to meet the growing demands of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

The company states that It is the “largest and most capable” Seaspray AESA radar, enhancing the “operationally proven” 7500E radar system.

According to General Atomics, its MQ-9A drone completed its first-ever test flight earlier this month with the Seaspray.

“The benefits of this Maritime Patrol Radar in the complex littoral and maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance environment will add world-class situational awareness for our RPA (remotely piloted aircraft),” company official Robert Schoeffling said in a press release.

Apart from the MQ-9A drone, the maritime-focused radar is also being fitted into the MQ-9B SeaGuardian.

Seaspray radar. Photo: Leonardo

The MQ-9A Drone

Dubbed the “Reaper” by the US and Royal Air Force, the MQ-9A drone features a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple-redundant avionics system architecture designed to meet manned aircraft reliability standards.

It is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, significantly improving the drone’s performance and fuel efficiency, particularly at low altitudes.

According to General Atomics, the MQ-9A can carry multiple mission payloads, including electro-optical/infrared, Lynx multi-mode radar, multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, electronic support measures, and laser designators.

It has a maximum flight time of more than 27 hours and a maximum speed of 240 knots (444 kilometers/276 miles per hour).

Integrating the Seaspray radar into the MQ-9A Reaper will reportedly provide a significant range increase, improved maritime detection, and the ability to handle a high number of targets.

“General Atomics [is] an important partner and I’m delighted to see our joint projects generating interest in the market,” Leonardo official Tony Innes explained. “Seaspray’s long-range, wide-area maritime and ground surveillance capability makes it an ideal fit for the MQ-9A and MQ-9B.”

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