General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and industry partners are working on an open architecture-based payload for drones.
The company said it teamed with British firms Selex Galileo and Cobham’s aviation services business to conduct live test flights of a MQ-9 Reaper, fitted with a Selex Galileo-made surveillance radar.
Flights took place at GA-ASI’s facilities in Palmdale, Calif. and tested the drone’s ability to track land- and sea-based targets via the radar.
Officials from the U.S. Air Force, Department of Homeland Security and the defense ministries of Canada, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the U.K. attended the demonstration.
Payload providers and mission systems integrators can develop their own payload control software, said Frank Pace, GA-ASI’s president for aircraft systems.
The demonstration was a part of a joint independent research and development effort between the three companies to develop design concepts and certify mission systems.
GA-ASI modified software and hardware, Selex Galileo provided radar technology and integration work and Cobham was responsible for support arrangements with U.K. partners.
The demonstration ws the first phase of test flights that will by followed by integration phases conducted independently from GA-ASI.