By B.C. Kessner

FARNBOROUGH, England–Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) giant General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) Wednesday said it entered a teaming relationship with the United Kingdom segment of Cobham on a whole-life support package for GA-ASI products such as the MQ-9 UAS, known as Reaper in Britain.

“By teaming with Cobham, a U.K. industry leader, we have taken the next step to ensure that U.K. Reaper operations can continue to be backed by timely, flexible, integrated logistics support,” Thomas Cassidy, GA-ASI’s Aircraft Systems Group president, said.

This is the company’s first teaming with Cobham in the U.K., although the pair has been in discussions about this possibility for a couple of years, a GA-ASI spokesperson told Defense Daily. The company has been partnered with Cobham in Australia “for quite a while now” on potential future business, the spokesperson added.

Additionally, Cobham recently acquired SPARTA, which is one of GA-ASI’s Team Sky Warrior partners on the Army’s Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) UAS.

The teaming arrangement will initially focus on the provision of support to the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) Reaper UAS currently in operation with the Royal Air Force (RAF) over Afghanistan. The companies will develop support solutions that could be used by the MoD to offer increased flexibility and sovereignty over existing arrangements, GA-ASI said.

“In terms of the specifics of the support deal, remember that the U.K. business is through a [Foreign Military Sales (FMS)] deal via the U.S. Air Force, so such details will be worked out between the [Air Force], MoD, and Cobham,” the spokesperson said.

“The teaming arrangement provides us with the potential for the U.K. to increase flexibility and robustness of support and the ability to develop U.K. industry’s UAS support capabilities in line with MoD Defence Industrial Strategy,” Jonathan Barratt, the Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle Experiment (SUAVE) Integrated Project Team Leader, said. “We look forward to the team’s proposals.”

GA-ASI also said here Wednesday that it successfully completed a weeklong series of Lynx II production radar performance flight tests at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., (YPG) test range. Radar improvements further boosted performance levels beyond System Development and Demonstration (SDD) requirements, the company added.

GA-ASI originally developed the synthetic aperture radar with ground moving target indicator (SAR/ GMTI) for the ER/MP program and recently completed final delivery of SDD radars to the Army.

Testing of SAR imaging, GMTI detections, and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) cross-cueing was managed by the YPG Test Center using GA-ASI production radars that included software improvements exceeding the performance of the SDD baseline radars, the company said. YPG and the Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) personnel for formal analysis collected the test results.

GA-ASI is in production for 33 Lynx II radars for delivery in 2008 and 2009. The first six of these units will be delivered in September 2008 to the Iraqi air force ISR Program, an Air Force FMS program contracted through Hawker Beechcraft.

The Lynx II radar provides the all-weather precision capability to detect time-sensitive targets and offers a long-range, wide-area surveillance capability that can provide high-resolution SAR imagery slant ranges well beyond effective EO/IR range.

It also incorporates a broad area GMTI scanning capability to detect moving vehicles with the ability to cross-cue to an EO/IR payload via the GA-ASI’s CLAW payload control software.

GA-ASI appeared to be having a busy and productive time this year at Farnborough. “It’s always an impressive show and even more so this year with the RAF now flying our MQ-9 Reaper aircraft in combat in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said.