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Hughes to provide satellite communications for SkyGuardian drones

By
Ryan Maass
Hughes' contract with General Atomics aims to improve data transfer capabilities for the SkyGuardian drone. Photo courtesy of General Atomics
Hughes' contract with General Atomics aims to improve data transfer capabilities for the SkyGuardian drone. Photo courtesy of General Atomics

March 6 (UPI) -- Hughes Network Systems has been selected by General Atomics to provide satellite communications for the SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft.

The work will support Predator B variants operated by the armed forces of Britain, and will be fitted to adhere to both U.K. and NATO flight requirements. According to Hughes, the contract aims to allow the aircraft to operate in civilian airspace in addition to increasing payload capacity.

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General Atomics and Hughes will collaborate on integrating customized Hughes HM series modems, which will allow for increased data transfers using enhanced waveforms.

"We are proud to have been selected for the SkyGuardian platform and its enhanced SATCOM capability," general manager Rick Lober said in a press release. "With the development and supply of our customized HM series modem, aircraft operators and mission personnel will experience the benefits of protected SATCOM which includes the flexibility to employ the most appropriate frequencies for Beyond-Line-of-Sight communication."

The General Atomics SkyGuardian is a variant of the Predator B remotely piloted aircraft designed to perform operations in domestic airspace. The aircraft has a maximum altitude of around 40,000 feet, a 40-hour flight endurance and can reach speeds of over 240 miles per hour.

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