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Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations are projected to increase sharply in civil airspace in the coming decade, but many problems remain unsolved regarding their incorporation in the airspace alongside manned aircraft. A new dynamic platform successfully fulfills U.S. commercial and civilian requirements in addition to U.S. military missions. The technology has proved small UAS can safely fly in controlled airspace using the same technology that has helped maintain flight safety for decades.

An ISR Resolute Eagle UAS, equipped with an XPC-TR-50 Mode C transponder, successfully completed a mission in civil airspace at the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range in Oregon while operating under an FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). A transponder is a device for receiving a radio signal and automatically transmitting a different signal. Aviation transponders are a key part of the system air traffic controllers use to maintain safe separation between aircraft. Moreover, small UAS are not detectable passively by ATC radars because of their small size.

Resolute Eagle, manufactured by PAE ISR, is a fixed-wing tactical UAS that offers advanced performance for use in the civil or military airspace. Without a transponder, the aircraft’s small size makes it virtually invisible to Air Traffic Control (ATC).

Sagetech’s military-certified XP transponder eliminates this issue, allowing the Resolute Eagle unmanned airplane to operate safely while sharing airspace with manned aircraft, according to the company’s announcement on its website.

“Sagetech is delighted that PAE ISR selected our transponder to demonstrate the commercial capability of the Resolute Eagle UAS in civil airspace,” says Kelvin Scribner, Sagetech’s chief executive officer. “Sagetech’s technology has been a key enabler of small UAS military operations for over 15 years and PAE ISR’s flight from the Pendleton, OR airport marks another step as our products transition from military to civil use.”

Sagetech’s transponders allow even these naturally stealthy aircraft to integrate seamlessly with existing ATC radar systems.