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GA-ASI Developing New ABAD Pod for Battlefield Awareness and Defense

Payload Designed to Enhance Survivability of MQ-9A Against IR and RF Threats

San Diego May 9, 2024 Photo(s): By X / GenAtomics_ASI
The Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense pod will enable the tracking of RF and IR missile threats, defensive countermeasures, and real-time threat awareness for MQ-9A.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is working with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to develop a new Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense (ABAD) capability. The new ABAD pod is being developed for the GA-ASI-supplied MQ-9A Block 5 Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Tactical (MALET) Extended Range Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) being operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). ABAD will provide detection and protection against Radio Frequency (RF) and Infrared (IR) threats.

"Threat awareness and survivability are critical for MQ-9A to operate in contested environments," said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. "ABAD will enable the tracking of RF and IR missile threats, enable defensive measures, and real-time threat awareness for MQ-9A."

The first phase of contract work evaluated suitable RF Electronic Warfare (EW) and IR countermeasures systems. This led to the down selection of a next-generation software-defined radio-based EW system from BAE Systems and the AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure System (DAIRCM) from Leonardo DRS.

"BAE Systemsí advancements in small form factor EW technologies will provide affordable multifunction capabilities for the MQ-9A, enabling it to operate in previously inaccessible airspace," said Joshua Niedzwiecki, vice president and general manager of Electronic Combat Solutions at BAE Systems.

"Leonardo DRS is delighted to team with GA-ASI to provide our industry-leading and proven AN/AAQ-45 DAIRCM aircraft protection system to enhance MQ-9A survivability in support of this mission for USSOCOM," said DRS Vice President of the DAIRCM Program, David Snodgrass.

Work is underway on an engineering and test effort to mature the capability as a podded payload capable of operation on the MQ-9A aircraft in 2025.