Remote detection and tracking of submerged contacts including submarines has been demonstrated using an MQ-9 Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) participated in a US naval exercise to demonstrate new maritime patrol capabilities that included anti-submarine warfare.
Sonobuoys were deployed by US Navy helicopters during the demonstration conducted over the Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE) west of San Clemente Island on October 12. The acoustic data gathered by the sonobuoys was then transmitted to the MQ-9 and processed onboard, before being relayed to the MQ-9’s Ground Control Station (GCS) several hundred miles away from the target area.
The event successfully paired a sonobuoy receiver, supplied by Ultra Electronics, and data processing technology, provided by General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada, onboard the MQ-9. A track solution was calculated and transmitted from the aircraft to the Ground Control Station (GCS) via SATCOM.
According to GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue the technology will provide long-range patrol and relay capabilities to the MQ-9 to augment maritime mission sets.
“This test demonstrated the ability of our RPA to detect submarines and provide persistent tracking of submerged targets, he said.
The MQ-9 was also equipped with GA-ASI’s Lynx Multi-mode Radar which featured its Maritime Wide-area Search (MWAS) mode to detect maritime surface targets over a wide area with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) for target classification. The aircraft’s Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR), high-definition Full-motion Video (FMV) camera supports the identification of surface vessels. These sensor contacts are correlated with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to verify target identity. Additionally, the MQ-9 can be fitted with a centreline pod that can house a longer-range, 360-degree field of regard maritime surface search radar for enhanced surveillance over water.
Project Air 7003 will provide the ADF with a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) RPAS, including aircraft and ground control stations, early in the next decade. GA-ASI is vying for the project with the MQ-9, an example of which was on display at Avalon 2017 along with a ground control station.