The New York Air National Guard has tested a new takeoff and landing capability on the MQ-9 Reaper drone at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York.
Fitted with Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability software, the unmanned system automatically took off, flew, and landed from one airport to another.
Previously, the MQ-9 Reaper required line of sight guidance from a ground control station to facilitate smooth takeoff and landing.
Such a requirement limited the places where the drone could operate.
According to 174th Attack Wing commander Col. William J. McCrink, the new capability allows the Reaper to be “more agile and dynamic” because it can fly without the need for traditional ground logistical support.
“I firmly believe this is going to be the way of the future,” he said. “We look forward to the agility this gives us; then we can dynamically employ this platform.”
With the new software, the drone will require fewer crew to operate, perform maintenance activities, and refuel.