AmericasCyberDrones - Latest News, Features & Expert Opinion

MQ-9A Reaper Drone Upgrades to Fight Cyber, Anti-Aircraft Threats

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced two major upgrades to its MQ-9A Reaper drones for cyber and anti-aircraft missile threats.

The company disclosed last week that it had tapped the services of US cybersecurity startup Shift5 to integrate its onboard cyber anomaly detection and predictive maintenance solutions into the remotely piloted aircraft.

These capabilities will help defeat malicious code that could disable the drone or steal valuable intelligence data, ensuring cyber survivability and enhanced mission readiness.

“The Shift5 platform reveals critical operational and cybersecurity insights that enable operators to move from data to decisions quickly and confidently,” GA-ASI stated. “[It] deploys on premises or in the cloud to support streaming and air-gapped modes for offline and online capability.”

The Reapers are operated by the US Special Operations Command and the Air Force Special Operations Command.

Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense Pod

In addition to the cyber solutions, the MQ-9A Reapers will receive a new Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense (ABAD) pod.

The ABAD can detect radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) threats that anti-aircraft weapons often use to go after their targets.

Once installed, the tech is expected to provide the Reapers with the capability to see ground threats earlier and deal with them quickly.

“Threat awareness and survivability are critical for MQ-9A to operate in contested environments,” GA-ASI President David R. Alexander said. “ABAD will enable the tracking of RF and IR missile threats, enable defensive measures, and real-time threat awareness for MQ-9A.”

The pod is still under development and scheduled to mature and be operational by 2025.

Recent Setbacks

GA-ASI’s move to upgrade its MQ-9A Reapers follows a series of major setbacks on one of America’s most advanced unmanned aircraft systems.

In November 2023, a Reaper was shot down by a missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It happened again in February when a suspected Houthi surface-to-air missile caused another MQ-9 to crash.

The Russians have also seemingly found an effective way to defeat the sophisticated American drone as evident in a March 2023 aerial counter between a Reaper and Su-27 aircraft.

The Russian fighter reportedly dumped fuel on the Reaper over the Black Sea before colliding with it, causing the drone to crash.

Despite being on top of Ukraine’s weapons wish list, Washington has been hesitant to provide the system to Kyiv over fear that it might be taken down again by Russia.

Related Articles

Back to top button