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Interesting move in the field of unmanned systems payloads. A NATO Pod will be integrated onto the MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) line to increase its configuration and payload options. The NATO Pod is a flexible, scalable, certifiable, aerodynamic and low-cost enclosure that enables customers to add sovereign sensor capabilities developed in their respective countries using a common set of interfaces to the aircraft system. This approach reduces integration time and cost.

This is a collaboration between General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and SENER, basing on significant agreements regarding the MQ-9A for Spain and its adaptation to the requirements of the Spanish Armed Forces.

NATO Pod development is driven by GA-ASI’s initiative to provide customers with a customizable pod for carriage of sovereign, cross-domain Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors that can be integrated onto GA-ASI-built MQ-9A and MQ-9B RPA Systems. 

GA-ASI is working with European suppliers to add sensor capabilities to the new European-built payload pod that meets NATO airworthiness standards. 

This way, European sensor suppliers will be provided a standard Size, Weight and Power (SWAP) and Interface Control Document (ICD) to the aircraft system to efficiently integrate their payloads. 

Having successfully completed the system definition and specification phase, the conceptual and preliminary design phases, as well as the Critical Design Review at the beginning of the summer, SENER Aeroespacial is currently working for GA-ASI on the detailed design phase of the NATO Pod, according to uasvision.com.