General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) has teamed up with Leonardo to integrate SAGE electronic warfare surveillance system onto its MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicle.
SAGE will be offered as an available baseline configuration for MQ-9B customers of Sky Guardian and maritime surveillance Sea Guardian configurations.
Under an agreement announced July 16, the two companies will jointly invest in the project which will see SAGE integrated into the MQ-9B airframe without the need for external pod(s).
Integration work has already begun and the MQ-9B featuring SAGE will be available to order as soon as 2019, the companies said.
SAGE is a digital ELINT (electronic intelligence) sensor with a built-in 360⁰ RWR (radar-warning receiver) capability. It is used to detect, identify and geo-locate radio frequency (RF) signals, such as radar fire-control systems, and can alert operators to potential threats to the aircraft.
According to Leonardo, the system can identify the location and parametric data of specific RF emitters from a single platform. It is already in service with the South Korean Navy, Brazilian Navy and Indonesian Air Force.
SAGE will be integrated into the MQ-9B airframe, as opposed to being fitted via an external pod. The lack of an added pod for the ESM capability will reduce the platform mass of the equipped MQ-9B, maximizing endurance.
The MQ-9B is the latest evolution of GA-ASI’s Predator B fleet. The baseline MQ-9B aircraft is named SkyGuardian and the maritime surveillance variant is called SeaGuardian.