General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) recently reported on a second flying demonstration of an MQ-9 Reaper in the electronic warfare (EW) role. The UAV flew with the Northrop Grumman Pandora electronic warfare system inside special pods designed by GA-ASI. The combination flew from MCAS Yuma in Arizona, last April and again in October during a Marine Corps exercise.
According to GA-ASI, the second demo evaluated the capability of a UAV to conduct electronic warfare missions in concert with other unmanned aircraft systems and EA-6B Prowlers in a multi-node approach against a more capable integrated air defense system. The Northrop Grumman payload proved effective and was integrated seamlessly with the Reaper avionics and command-and-control architecture, GA-ASI added.
Pandora is a lightweight, low-power multifunction wideband system that includes a flexible architecture to meet emerging needs and supports open interfaces to enable integration and interoperability. “These demonstrations show what’s now possible with our high-performance electronic warfare solution,” said Janine Nyre, vice president of radio frequency combat information systems at Northrop Grumman.
“We demonstrated operational concepts using a layered approach to electronic warfare with GA-ASI’s Reaper, EA-6B Prowlers, and other Group 3 UAVs,” stated Brig. Gen. Matthew Glavy, assistant deputy commandant for marine aviation. “By conducting multiple events with a networked, pod-based jamming system, we were able to evaluate the viability of UAVs to conduct electronic warfare missions against enemy air defenses in support of tactical strike aircraft.”
“Our collaboration with the Marine Corps and Northrop Grumman demonstrates the operational flexibility of the Predator B from being primarily a counter-insurgency aircraft to a platform that can address a broader spectrum of operational requirements,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “We believe this will be important especially in a declining budget environment as our customers will be seeking greater warfighting value using less expensive solutions.”
In the past year, GA-ASI has also flown a Reaper with the DB-110 imaging reconnaissance pod made by UTC Aerospace Systems.