New ABAD Pod in Development for Protection Against RF & IR Threats

The Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense (ABAD) payload is designed to enhance survivability of General Atomics' MQ-9A unmanned aerial system (UAS) against infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) threats By Joseph Macey / 13 May 2024
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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is developing a new Airborne Battlespace Awareness and Defense (ABAD) pod with U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

ABAD will provide detection and protection against Radio Frequency (RF) and Infrared (IR) threats.

The new pod is being developed for the GA-ASI-supplied MQ-9A Block 5 Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Tactical (MALET) Extended Range Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) being operated by the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

GA-ASI President David R. Alexander, said; “Threat awareness and survivability are critical for MQ-9A to operate in contested environments.

“ABAD will enable the tracking of RF and IR missile threats, enable defensive measures, and real-time threat awareness for MQ-9A.”

The first phase of contract work evaluated suitable RF Electronic Warfare (EW) and IR countermeasures systems. This led to the down selection of a next-generation software-defined radio-based EW system from BAE Systems and the AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure System (DAIRCM) from Leonardo DRS.

Joshua Niedzwiecki, Vice President and General Manager of Electronic Combat Solutions at BAE Systems, said; “BAE Systems’ advancements in small form factor EW technologies will provide affordable multifunction capabilities for the MQ-9A, enabling it to operate in previously inaccessible airspace.”

DRS Vice President of the DAIRCM Program, David Snodgrass, added; “Leonardo DRS is delighted to team with GA-ASI to provide our industry-leading and proven AN/AAQ-45 DAIRCM aircraft protection system to enhance MQ-9A survivability in support of this mission for USSOCOM.”

Work is underway on an engineering and test effort to mature the capability as a podded payload capable of operation on the MQ-9A aircraft in 2025.

Posted by Joseph Macey Connect & Contact