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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Japan Coast Guard to Fly GA-ASI Aircraft


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. will provide unmanned aircraft to Japan’s coast guard, the Poway business announced on April 6.


Japan will begin monitoring its exclusive economic zone with MQ-9B SeaGuardian remotely piloted aircraft as soon as October. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The General Atomics affiliate had been in discussions with Japan for several years.

“We’re proud to support the JCG’s maritime surveillance mission with our SeaGuardian UAS,” said Linden P. Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “The system’s ability to provide affordable, extremely long-endurance airborne surveillance with long-range sensors in the maritime domain is unprecedented.”

This project follows a series of flight trials in 2020. The test flights used SeaGuardian to validate JCG missions in accordance with Japan’s Policy on Strengthening the Maritime Security Systems, using unmanned aerial vehicles to perform maritime wide-area surveillance.

A Setback in Australia

In other news, GA-ASI will not supply its unmanned aircraft to Australia as expected, because the Australian defense department has reportedly changed its priorities.

News of the program’s cancellation came “after nearly a decade of efforts toward that acquisition program,” GA-ASI President David R. Alexander said in a statement issued March 31. The news, he said, was a disappointment.

An account appearing in Janes on April 1 said the program, called Project Air 7003, was to deliver 12-16 armed MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft to Australia. The aircraft were to have been in service by the mid-2020s. A Australian Department of Defence spokesman told Janes that the reason for the cancellation was a change of priorities in favor of cybersecurity.

Netherlands Deploy MQ-9As

Separately, on April 12, GA-ASI announced the Royal Netherlands Air Force had taken delivery of three MQ-9A Block 5 remotely piloted aircraft and two mobile ground control stations.

According to GA-ASI, the air force will begin operating the MQ-9s later this month out of Curaçao, near Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. There the aircraft will provide long-range, persistent surveillance.

Aircraft in the MQ-9 family are capable of staying in the air for more than 24 hours. The aircraft built for the Netherlands offer a long-endurance, persistent surveillance capability with full-motion video and synthetic aperture radar/moving target indicator/maritime radar.


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