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    MQ-9 Reaper Drones to Receive Advanced Protection Upgrades for Modern Battlefields

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    432d WG MQ-9A Reaper Flyover – Aviation Nation 2019” by Noah Wulf is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that the MQ-9A Reaper drones, integral to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), are slated for significant upgrades.

    General Atomics MQ-9A-1 Reaper ‘11-120 / TX’ ‘147ATKW’ (11-4120)” by HawkeyeUK is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    These enhancements aim to bolster the drones’ defenses against contemporary cyber threats and enemy attacks. Amidst an evolving security landscape, the MQ-9A Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), is set to become more resilient and better equipped to operate in high-threat environments.

    GAAS MQ-9A Reaper” by Ken H / @chippyho is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The MQ-9A will receive advanced cyber anomaly detection capabilities, predictive maintenance, and a specialized Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense (ABAD) pod, which will improve the drone’s ability to detect and counter Radio Frequency (RF) and Infrared (IR) threats.

    General Atomics MQ-9A-1 Reaper ‘11-120 / TX’ ‘147ATKW’ (11-4120)” by HawkeyeUK is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    These upgrades come in response to the increased necessity for cybersecurity within the military and the unfortunate loss of several drones to hostile fire over the past year.

    General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper” by hugh llewelyn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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

    MQ-9A Reaper” by Tomáš krist is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    Partnerships have been forged to integrate the latest technologies from leading defense firms.

    GA-ASI has teamed up with BAE Systems for a next-generation software-defined radio-based Electronic Warfare system, and Leonardo DRS for the AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure System (DAIRCM).

    Both systems will form the backbone of the new ABAD pod, offering enhanced protection and giving the MQ-9A access to previously inaccessible airspace.

    MQ-9 Reaper Drone” by rocbolt is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The Shift5 Platform has been pivotal in providing the MQ-9A with operational and cybersecurity insights, leading to more informed and timely decisions in the field.

    EHVK – General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper” by lynothehammer1978 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Josh Lospinoso, CEO and co-founder of Shift5, stated, “The battlefield of the future will include more remotely piloted, autonomous, and unmanned systems. Central to maintaining advantage in this operating environment is access to real-time data.” Shift5’s partnership with GA-ASI seeks to maintain decision dominance through democratized data access and analysis.

    General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper” by cclark395 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    Furthermore, to counteract the threats of GPS jamming and spoofing, Shift5 has introduced the GPS Integrity Module.

    MQ-9 Reapers Prepare to Launch” by New York National Guard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    This solution provides automated detection and alerts for such attacks, highlighting the necessity of navigational reliability for defense and commercial transport systems.

    RAF Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air System” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    On the hardware front, the ABAD pod is anticipated to reach operational status by 2025, following a meticulous engineering and test effort.

    MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019” by Air National Guard is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    The pod is being developed for the MQ-9A Block 5 Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Tactical (MALET) Extended Range RPAs and is expected to substantially augment the drone’s ability to endure in the modern battlefield, particularly against RF and IR threats.

    The MQ-9A Reaper, known for its versatility and endurance, has already demonstrated adaptability in various operational scenarios. With the announced advancements, the RPA will further solidify its role in modern military operations, ensuring its relevancy and effectiveness against the multifaceted threats of today’s warfare.

    Relevant articles:
    MQ-9 Reaper Gets New Capabilities Against Cyber And Anti-Aircraft Threats, The Aviationist
    GA-ASI Developing New ABAD Pod for Battlefield Awareness and Defense, General Atomics
    General Atomics Developing New ABAD Pod To Boost Battlefield Awareness Of USAF MQ-9A Drones, Simple Flying
    ASI and USSOCOM collaborate on ABAD Pod for MQ, Airforce Technology

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