SeaGuardian Drone Gets New Long-Range Weapon

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General Atomics MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAS is soon to receive smarter weaponry thanks to a new collaboration between GA-ASI and Lockheed Martin, who will develop Net-Enabled Weapons capability to boost the drone’s long-range precision targeting, especially against moving targets.

MQ-9B SeaGuardian is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS, whose multi-domain capabilities allow it to adapt to different missions. This new capability is also expected to enhance its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities.

Net-Enabled Weapons, or NEWs, are a type of air-to-ground precision-guided munitions that are currently being developed by several countries and are essentially an evolution of GPS-guided weapons that are directed to a specific coordinate before release. They also have the added capability of receiving updated targeting coordinates in flight through a common datalink, and can even be tracked by aircraft and other platforms that are connected to the same network.

According to Interesting Engineering, having a common datalink enables the transfer of weapon control from one platform to another, so that control could for example be passed from an aircraft launching the weapons to a ground team with visual contact on a target.

The technology provides expanded sensor targeting applications for precision targeting of long-range weapons. GA-ASI explains in its press release that the SeaGuardian’s demonstrated persistence along with its array of precision targeting sensors enables more efficient kill chains, especially in contested environments.

GA-ASI President David R. Alexander stated: “This is a very important system attribute for SeaGuardian to enable naval long-range targeting CONOPS against high-end threats at much less risk to manned platforms… We appreciate Lockheed Martin’s support in helping us prove the NEW technology, which is an important component of our ISR&T capability.”

GA-ASI is an affiliate of General Atomics and a leading designer and manufacturer of reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems, radars, electro-optics, and related mission systems. It is known to provide long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems that are essential for delivering continuous situational awareness.