US Air Force flies AgilePod on MQ-9 Reaper

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Pictured fitted to a Textron Scorpion light attack/ISR aircraft during an earlier trial, the US Air Force’s AgilePod sensor and mission system evaluation pod has recently been tested on a GA-ASI MQ-9 Reaper MALE UAS.
US Air Force

The US Air Force announced on June 12, 2018, that it has recently conducted a series of three demonstrations of a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper UAS fitted with its multi-intelligence, reconfigurable AgilePod system. The tests were conducted by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Sensors Program Office, in conjunction with the AFLCMC Medium Altitude Unmanned Aerial Systems Program Office.

The AgilePod system has been developed by the US Air Force to be a family of pods of several sizes that can be integrated with multiple platforms and capable accommodating various mission systems and sensor payloads.

Andrew Soine, Program Manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, said: “The AgilePod programme began with a desire to bring agile manufacturing practices to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR] enterprise, culminating in a wholly government-owned, open-architecture ISR capability that was both payload and platform agnostic.”

Captain Juliana Nine, AFRL Sensors Directorate Blue Guardian Team Program Manager, added: “Blue Guardian’s mission is to rapidly demonstrate emerging sensor technology. These MQ-9 flights did exactly that. The open adaptable architecture based on open mission system and common electrical and mechanical interfaces developed by the Blue Guardian team enabled the rapid reconfigurability of the sensors inside the AgilePod. This capability will help the warfighter adapt their sensor payloads as the mission dictates.”

An information transfer agreement between the US Air Force and industry enables the sharing of government-owned AgilePod technical data while enabling industry innovation and a further series of tests are planned to occur in the near future. Nigel Pittaway