General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will conduct a further two demonstrations of its Mariner long-endurance unmanned air vehicle this year, including an assessment of the platform's surveillance capabilities while equipped with a maritime search radar with a new digital output capability. Systems under consideration to meet the enhanced radar requirement include an undisclosed design promoted by Elbit Systems and a further development of the Telephonics APS-143B demonstrated on the Mariner twice last year, says General Atomics' business development manager John Porter.

A development of the US company's Altair UAV demonstrator produced for NASA, the Mariner will this year take part in two test campaigns sponsored by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration, says Porter. To take place early this year, the first trial will include oceanographic and atmospheric monitoring sorties to be flown over US islands and managed from the mainland USA. A further test campaign will follow around August/September, with the test aircraft to receive the digital radar capability in time for these flights from Hawaii. General Atomics will also demonstrate the Mariner's capabilities to the Australian government early next year, with the air vehicle to conduct operations to protect the natural resources of the north-west shelf. To take place under the auspices of Australia's ongoing maritime UAV evaluation process, the demonstration is expected to be controlled from Adelaide, Southern Australia, says Porter.

Source: Flight International