On August 7, the US Air Force (USAF) completed the first-ever automated landing of an MQ-9 Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), followed by the first auto-takeoff on August 9. The new Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to enhance mission capability.
“This new, all-weather capability greatly increases the autonomy, flexibility, combat effectiveness and safety of the MQ-9 Reaper for the USAF,” said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “Adding this level of automation will reduce the deployment burden of the warfighter and expand the scope of missions that can be flown by Air Force MQ-9s.”
By automating the takeoff and landing of the RPA, ATLC helps to increase the safety and efficiency of the air crews. The auto launch and recovery during these critical phases of RPA flight also enlarges the operational envelope for cross wind operations. The ATLC development program remains on track for fielding in the fall of 2019.