MQ-9 Surveillance Drone Upgraded with High Capacity Communication Capability

  • Bureau
  • 02:14 PM, May 30, 2023
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MQ-9 Surveillance Drone Upgraded with High Capacity Communication Capability
MQ-9 Reaper drone

An MQ-9 Reaper drone featuring an upgraded satellite communications capability took part in a recent exercise.

On May 27, the U.S. Air Force said that the Air National Guard-Air Force Reserve Command Test Center partnered with the 174th Attack Wing and 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron to test the upgraded MQ-9 Reaper during exercise Northern Edge 2023 at Eielson Air Force Base.

Northern Edge 23 is a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command-sponsored, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces-led, multilateral, joint field training exercise at main operating bases Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson AFB.

The MQ-9 is a remotely piloted aircraft primarily used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Air National Guard pilots, using the SATCOM upgrade, can now fly ISR missions in real-time almost anywhere around the world from remote bases in the United States.

The MQ-9's upgraded SATCOM system uses advanced satellite technology to transmit data and communications over long distances. It is capable of flying at high altitudes for extended periods and its sensors can provide real-time intelligence on adversary positions, movements and activities. The ANG plans to deploy the upgraded MQ-9 to support ongoing operations around the world, as well as for training exercises and other missions in support of U.S. national security objectives.

"This SATCOM upgrade will allow pole-to-pole operations while increasing the amount of data or bandwidth the MQ-9 can transmit and receive by more than double and reducing the latency or time of transmission by a factor of 10,” said Maj. Ryan Nastase, Test Program manager.

With the upgraded SATCOM capability, the MQ-9 can continue to modernize by integrating more advanced sensors that require increased bandwidth. The upgrade enhances the aircraft’s ability to provide real-time situational awareness to combatant commanders.

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