Jan. 30 (UPI) -- SkyGuardian, a new variant of the Predator B unmanned aerial system that meets international standards for flying in civilian airspace, has been launched.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. said the "Type-Certifiable" variant is fully compliant with NATO's UAV System Airworthiness Requirements (defined in STANAG 4671) and Britain's DEFSTAN 00-970 standards.
The company also collaborated with the German Military Aviation Authority in developing the aircraft.
"The SkyGuardian name reflects the system's role in protecting ground forces, as well as its performance of non-military missions like border-surveillance, maritime patrol, and relief over-watch in cases of natural disaster," said Linden Blue, chief executive officer of GA-ASI.
The system, developed over five years, SkyGuardian has a flight endurance of more than 35 hours and has a speed of more than 210 knots. It is capable of flying higher than 46,000 feet.
The SkyGuardian can carry a variety of sensor and communications payloads and can transmit high-resolution video to manned aircraft and ground forces.
GA-ASI said it is building three company-owned aircraft, along with two airframes designed specifically for full-scale fatigue and static testing. It expects to deliver the first production SkyGuardian in 2018.