General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has teamed with EDGE to integrate smart weapons into the MQ-9B SkyGuardian aerial drone.
The partnership will see the Abu Dhabi company’s precision-guided and guided-glide munitions integrated into the unmanned system for increased firepower.
The munitions use flight control kits to carry conventional explosives for more complex operations, including air-to-surface strikes.
EDGE’s smart weapons portfolio includes the Desert Sting glide weapons, Thunder precision-guided weapons, and Al Tariq all-weather day/night long-range munitions.
A ‘New Chapter’
According to GA-ASI, the collaboration is the first time a US unmanned system will utilize UAE-fabricated smart weapons.
This milestone establishes a “new chapter” in military cooperation between the countries and promotes further partnerships in the field, the company wrote.
“Integrating home-grown capabilities onto our customer platforms is something we’ve done a lot, but we’ve never before integrated a non-NATO weapon system onto one of our [remotely piloted] platforms,” GA-ASI President David Alexander explained.
Further Partnerships Expected
The UAE military currently operates GA-ASI’s Predator XP and is engaged with the US Department of Defense to add the MQ-9B into its unmanned fleet.
EDGE’s teaming with GA-ASI is expected to launch additional programs across the UAE defense industry and combine overseas-developed weapons and sensors with the MQ-9B for UAE and military customers.
“The opportunity to integrate our smart weapons on the MQ-9B SkyGuardian will offer the end user multiple dynamic, highly accurate, and cost-effective ground strike solutions,” EDGE Missiles & Weapons President Hamad Al Marar said.
“We look forward to working closely with General Atomics Aeronautical on this programme and to enhancing our collaboration in the future.”