Military Embedded Systems

Sensors aim to make manned/unmanned teaming safer for defense aviation


September 15, 2022

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Navy photo.

NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER AIRCRAFT DIVISION, Patuxent River, Md. The U.S. Navy ran successful tests of a new detect-and-avoidance system -- dubbed "Guardian" -- that is aimed at making defense aviation’s manned/unmanned teaming safer and less congested. 

Guardian tracks manned and unmanned systems across an airspace within a 200-nautical-mile radius, using ground-based sensors to communicate with vehicle operators in ground-control stations to provide visual cues for navigation and traffic-avoidance maneuvers like turn, ascend, or descend in instances where collisions are imminent – all on a computer screen, similar to GPS in a car. 

During the test, which was conducted during the summer of 2022, air-vehicle operators from Unmanned Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 flew two RQ-21 Blackjacks toward each other, while Guardian operators monitored screens that displayed the systems’ approach. The Guardian system alerted the operator of an imminent collision once the two systems came within 400 feet of each other and suggested avoidance maneuvers, successfully avoiding the impending (simulated) collision.

The Guardian testing team expects Naval Air Systems Command certification by end of fiscal year 2023.

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