Predator UAV Successfully Tests Beam-Switching Written 12 December 2017

Defense Systems reports that Intelsat conducted the “first successful test of beam-switching technology on an MQ-9 Predator drone” last month in trials at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Testing “was conducted using the Intelsat General’s Intelsat 29e satellite, part of the Intelsat Epic NG platform, with the Block 5 Predator B/MQ-9 drone.” The UAV “flew 1,075 nautical miles” during the tests, and was able to “switch smoothly between two spot beams multiple times throughout the trial.” Intelsat General President Skot Butler said that the tests “demonstrate the capability…to support aircraft as they travel long distances across multiple spot beams.” Beam switching offers “two primary benefits” for the Predator, “improved data transfer and improved resiliency” to jamming. Butler said that the company has developed beam-switching antenna that can be mounted on smaller UAV systems as well.
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