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Jack Richardson 

As part of the ongoing U.S. Air Force contract for MQ-9A REAPER modernisation, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has demonstrated three expanded Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) enhancements that provide the MQ-9A with a dramatic increase in operational flexibility. One enhancement enables the UAV to land at an alternate or “divert” airfield in which no Ground Control Station (GCS) is present.

The adjustment enables the operator to enter the new landing area coordinates so as to automatically land at the selected location, or the pilot can overfly and self-survey the divert airfield’s runway using the MQ-9A’s multispectral Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor to obtain coordinates for automatic landing. Once uploaded to the MQ-9A’s mission profile, the aircrew enables the ATLC system, which allows the aircraft to automatically manoeuvre itself into a landing pattern and make the automatic landing. The second enhancement expands the cross-wind limits of the MQ-9A and the third increases the maximum landing weight for normal and emergency landings.