American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has developed a maritime variant of its MQ-9B Predator B, the SeaGuardian. It features the main characteristics of MQ-9A and incorporates many enhancements, all designed to make it a truly multi-mission aircraft and not just a strike drone.
The SeaGuardian system will feature a multi-mode maritime surface search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, and High-Definition - Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. This sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.
On July 7, 2020, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. has announced that the SeaGuardian will be tested by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) in September of this year. The purpose of the flights is to validate the wide-area maritime surveillance capabilities of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) for carrying out JCG's missions, including search and rescue, disaster response, and maritime law enforcement. The flights are expected to run for approximately two months and will include support from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) at its Hachinohe base in Aomori Prefecture.
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