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Dubai 09: General Atomics eyes Middle East unmanned ISR market

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is promoting its unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities at the show in response to growing demand in the Middle East.

"We are here partly to sample the interest in this market, to explore the art of the possible," says Christopher Ames, director of business development. "The main product here is persistent situational awareness as the demand is very high for that capability here and around the world. We bring that capability in various forms."

Some of the Middle Eastern countries that could have these requirements include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman. Ames says that the deals could be done either through the US government's foreign military sales mechanism or by the company directly to the individual governments.

All of them, however, must be approved by the US government due to the sensitive technology they will incorporate. "What can be released has to be discussed by the US government, the company and the customer," says Ames.

Craig Hoyle/Flight International
© Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

Above: the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1 Predator
The company's Aircraft Systems Group designs and manufactures unmanned air vehicles such as the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and Sky Warrior. It also manufactures solid-state digital ground control stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for UAS field operations.

The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication radar and CLAW sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and unmanned aircraft.

It also integrates other sensor and communication equipment into manned ISR aircraft and develops emerging technologies in solid-state lasers, electro-optic sensors, and ultra-wideband data links for government applications.

While General Atomics can add strike capabilities to the Predator, Reaper and Sky Warrior UAVs, and these are already in service with the US Air Force, Ames says that it is not offering this to potential export customers.

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