General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Lockheed Martin are incorporating a Net-Enabled Weapons (NEW) capability into the MQ-9B SeaGuardian unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

The addition of NEW will improve the MQ-9B’s intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (IRS&T) capability, says GA-ASI.

GA-ASI SeaGuardian

Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

The SeaGuardian variant of the MQ-9 is optimised for maritime surveillance

Network-enabled weapons are more capable than precision-guided munitions, in that their target coordinates can be reprogrammed during flight via a datalink.

“The NEW technology provides expanded sensor targeting applications for the precision targeting of long-range weapons,” says GA-ASI.

“SeaGuardian’s demonstrated persistence coupled with its vast array of precision targeting sensors enables more efficient kill chains, especially in contested environments.”

GA-ASI indicates that the primary SeaGuardian sensor involved in the work is the Raytheon SeaVue multi-role radar.

Initial tests were completed in Southern California in early June with Boeing F/A-18s from the US Navy. 

GA-ASI adds that it and Lockheed are developing Link 16 messages to communicate with weapons in flight in preparation for a test range flight over water.

“This is a very important system attribute for SeaGuardian to enable naval long-range targeting [concept of operations] against high-end threats at much less risk to manned platforms,” says GA-ASI president David Alexander.

“We appreciate Lockheed Martin’s support in helping us prove out the NEW technology, which is an important component of our ISR&T capability.”