GA-ASI, SES and Hughes Team Up to Demonstrate NextGen SATCOM on MQ-9B SkyGuardian

GA-ASI, SES and Hughes Team Up to Demonstrate NextGen SATCOM on MQ-9B SkyGuardian

Higher Data Rates Increase Security and Robustness for RPA

SAN DIEGO – 10 November 2022 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), SES and Hughes Network Systems (HUGHES) worked together to successfully demonstrate multi-orbit satellite communications (SATCOM) using a GA-ASI-supplied MQ-9B SkyGuardian® Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). The demonstration took place on Oct. 20, 2022, at GA-ASI’s Desert Horizon flight operations facility in El Mirage, Calif. The higher data rate SATCOM transmission featured SES’s multi-orbit satellite communications service leveraging high-throughput, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and Geostationary (GEO) fleet, and was powered by a Hughes HM series software-defined modem and Hughes Resource Management System.

“This demonstration proves the importance of next generation SATCOM for operators of our aircraft,” said GA-ASI Senior Vice President for MQ-9 Systems, Fred Darlington. “As we expand into new and more intricate payloads for our RPA, we’ll require higher data rates that provide the bandwidth, security and robustness to operate our sensors.”

The demonstration used SES’s O3b MEO system that provides fiber-like carrier-grade performance, scalability, and resilience that set the path to widely leveraging open architectures and achieving network sovereignty.was leveraged to show how unmanned aircraft, such as the GA-ASI MQ-9 series, can maintain high-workload, mission-critical connectivity and resiliency, even in contested environments. During the demonstration, the connectivity service seamlessly roamed between O3b MEO and AMC-15 GEO satellites. Later this year, SES will be launching its second-generation MEO system, O3b mPOWER, to further support governments through unprecedented performance, waveform-agnostic service and enabling network sovereignty.

“We are very proud of our partnership developed over the years between SES, GA-ASI and their government customers. Innovation is the key in supporting transformational changes in the ISR services, and this demonstration is one more example of how the industry can work together to bring something special to market,” said Will Tong, Vice President of Strategic Government Initiatives and head of the Aero ISR market at SES. “Together with GA-ASI, we were able to prove out new levels of secure, flexible and high-performance multi-orbit services for ISR, with 10x performance on a significantly smaller form factor, with increased resiliency and security for the end users.”

Integrated onto the MQ-9B, the milspec Hughes HM System modem (HM400) powered the MEO and GEO SATCOM with Low-Probability of Intercept/Low Probability of Detection (LPI/LPD) modes for the resiliency necessary in congested and contested environments. Together with the Hughes Resource Management System, the HM400 automatically optimized and switched satellite signals smoothly and within seconds, demonstrating a near real-time capability that enhances the military’s Primary Alternative Contingency Emergency (PACE) planning.

“Working together with General Atomics for many years, we are pleased to support the MQ-9B program with the commercially based Hughes HM400 modem integrated as the standard for real-time communications for beyond line of sight mission opportunities,” said Rick Lober, Vice President and General Manager, Hughes Defense. “Combined with the Hughes Resource Management System, the frequency-agnostic, open architecture HM System helps GA-ASI meet their military customer’s requirements for uninterrupted, high data rate, multi-orbit SATCOM, ensuring secure information accessibility for the right people at the right time.”

About GA-ASI

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. With more than seven million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas. For more information, visit

Avenger, Lynx, Predator SeaGuardian and SkyGuardian are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

About SES

SES has a bold vision to deliver amazing experiences everywhere on earth by distributing the highest quality video content and providing seamless connectivity around the world. As the leader in global content connectivity solutions, SES operates the world’s only multi-orbit constellation of satellites with the unique combination of global coverage and high performance, including the commercially-proven, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b system. By leveraging a vast and intelligent, cloud-enabled network, SES is able to deliver high-quality connectivity solutions anywhere on land, at sea or in the air, and is a trusted partner to the world’s leading telecommunications companies, mobile network operators, governments, connectivity and cloud service providers, broadcasters, video platform operators and content owners. SES’s video network carries ~8,000 channels and has an unparalleled reach of 366 million households, delivering managed media services for both linear and non-linear content. The company is listed on Paris and Luxembourg stock exchanges (Ticker: SESG). Further information is available at:

About Hughes Network Systems

Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), an innovator in satellite and multi-transport technologies and networks for 50 years, provides broadband equipment and services; managed services featuring smart, software-defined networking; and end-to-end network operation for millions of consumers, businesses, governments and communities worldwide. The Hughes flagship Internet service, HughesNet®, connects millions of subscribers across the Americas, and the Hughes JUPITER™ System powers internet access for tens of millions more worldwide. Hughes supplies more than half the global satellite terminal market to leading satellite operators, in-flight service providers, mobile network operators and military customers. A managed network services provider, Hughes supports nearly 500,000 enterprise sites with its HughesON™ portfolio of wired and wireless solutions. Headquartered in Germantown, Maryland, USA, Hughes is owned by EchoStar. To learn more, visit or follow HughesConnects on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About EchoStar

EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS) is a premier global provider of satellite communication solutions. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and conducting business around the globe, EchoStar is a pioneer in secure communications technologies through its Hughes Network Systems and EchoStar Satellite Services business segments. For more information, visit Follow @EchoStar on Twitter.

©2022 Hughes Network Systems, LLC, an EchoStar company. Hughes and HughesNet are registered trademarks and JUPITER is a trademark of Hughes Network Systems, LLC.

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