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General Atomics flies Guardian RPA in Japan
Guardian RPA. © General Atomics.

General Atomics flies Guardian RPA in Japan

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has started a three-week series of demonstration flights of the Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in Japan.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced the first flight of the Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in Japan on 9th May during an opening ceremony on Iki Island in Nagasaki Prefecture. The flight marked the start of a series of demonstration flights over the next three weeks, intended to promote civil and scientific applications of the RPA.

The Guardian — a multi-mission maritime patrol variant of the company's Predator B platform — will collect data for scientific research that will be shared across multiple government agencies, while operating from the island of Iki.

The flight demonstrations follow an agreement between the U.S. firm and a consortium of Japanese industry, government, and academia groups announced in April 2017. That agreement was intended to accelerate operational approval for Medium-altitude Long-endurance (MALE) remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) to fly in non-segregated Japanese civil airspace.

The recent Guardian flight is described as the first demonstration of a long endurance RPA by a private company in Japan. The aircraft’s sensors include a long-range maritime surface-search radar, stabilized optical and infrared video cameras, and an active collision-avoidance system, which includes a short range air-to-air radar.

For demonstration purposes, the Guardian flights will consist of approximately 10 five-hour sorties, well below the RPA's 20 hours endurance.

The Guardian system will demonstrate various missions, including:

-- meteorological, disaster-relief and oceanic observations

-- marine accidents and rescue support

-- air space management and support of communications

General Atomics is leading the demonstrations in cooperation with Iki Airport personnel and Japanese national authorities. The company says that the sensor data collected by Guardian will be provided to scientific research institutions, and flight data will be given to airspace management organizations to help establish procedures for using RPA systems in national and international civil airspace.

 

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