General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Emirati defense firm EDGE have announced an agreement to integrate EDGE-built smart weapons onto GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones. The collaboration highlights deepening defense ties between the US and UAE.
Integrating Precision Weapons
Under the deal, GA-ASI and EDGE will work together to incorporate the UAE’s precision-guided munitions and guided glide weapons onto the MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicle.
The indigenous EDGE armaments include the Desert Sting glide bomb family and Thunder precision-guided series. GA-ASI views it as a first step to outfitting the platform with UAE sensors and weapons.
Enhancing MQ-9B Capabilities
By carrying high-tech Emirati PGMs, the MQ-9B gains additional flexible strike options. EDGE can tailor the weapons’ performance and integration for UAE requirements.
Their integration expands the versatile MQ-9B’s multi-mission capabilities, from its baseline ISR role to precise ground attack operations.
Deepening UAE-US Defense Collaboration
For GA-ASI, the integration project represents a new evolution in US-UAE defense technology cooperation. It is the first time the company has integrated a non-NATO armament onto a US platform.
The UAE military operates GA-ASI’s Predator XP drone and is acquiring the MQ-9B. Joint development like this agreement can enhance interoperability.
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Highlighting UAE’s Growing Defense Industry
The deal also highlights the UAE’s expanding domestic defense sector. EDGE is producing advanced platforms and weaponry for national security needs and export.
Integrating UAE weapons like the Desert Sting and Thunder models onto American drones validates the country’s research and manufacturing capabilities.
Overall, the agreement shows deepening technological cooperation between the UAE and US defense industries. It provides a pathway for further collaboration on optimizing UAE-made systems for GA-ASI’s unmanned portfolio.