Moreover, the end of production of once-remotely operated air force vehicles designed to dominate the battlefield in permissive airspace is a nascent sign that service is finally coming to its senses when it comes to making significant investments in stealth unmanned combat aircraft and other viable drone platforms. The international demand for a MALE RPAS that can be certified for civil airspace operation prompted General Atomics to develop a version of the platform, known by GA-ASI as the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, formerly known as the Certifiable Predator B, in order to make it compliant with European flight regulations and generate more sales in European countries. 1. In August 2008, Italy submitted a request for FMS through the Agency for Security and Defence Cooperation for four aircraft, four ground stations and five years of maintenance assistance totalling $330 million. [115] [133] Italy ordered two more aircraft in November 2009. [134] On May 30, 2012, it was reported that the United States planned to sell kits to arm the six Italian Reapers with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs. [135] However, Gen. Alberto Rosso expressed frustration with U.S. delays in integrating additional weapons into the platform, suggesting that Italy may have to look for alternatives to UAS.

[136] Italian harvesters were used: Power changes include a wingspan of 79 feet (24 m), which has fins and enough fuel for endurance of 40 hours at 50,000 feet (15,000 m). Features include a high definition EO/IR Full Motion video sensor, de-icing/anti-icing system, TCAS and automatic take-off and landing. The system also includes a completely redesigned and modernized integrated ground control station with 4 crew stations. [196] [197] U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operates two maritime variants of the MQ-9 known as the Guardians. [90] The U.S. Coast Guard assessed the Guardian, including conducting joint operations with CBP. [189] CBP and the Coast Guard jointly operate an MQ-9 Guardian from ground stations in Florida and Texas. [93] The Altair differs from these models in that it has a wingspan of 86 feet (26 m) (20 feet (6.1 m) larger than the first and current MQ-9).

Altair has upgraded its avionics systems to better enable flights in FAA-controlled civil airspace and demonstrate its command and control capability from a ground station. These aircraft will be used by NASA`s Earth Science Enterprise as part of NASA`s ERAST program to conduct science missions in the field. [85] From early 2010 to 2013, CBP operated a facility called «NASOC Cocoa Beach» or «NASOC Cape Canaveral» from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Florida.13 14 Finally, in 2016, CBP conducted a proof of concept of its UAS operations from San Angelo Regional Airport in San Angelo, Texas. San Angelo Regional Airport is the first (and so far only) civilian airport to conduct CBP`s UAS operations. Since much of CBP`s equipment is portable for working with MQ-9s, they have made several «deployments» at this airport over the years.15 In addition to operations in the United States, CBP`s MQ-9 fleet was reportedly deployed overseas to Panama and the Dominican Republic.16 17 The Department of Homeland Security`s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program began in November 2003 when Immigration and Customs and Customs tested General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.`s MQ-9 Predator B aircraft for a two-week period along the southwestern border of the United States near Gila Bend, Arizona. as part of Operation Safeguard4. Shortly thereafter, the UAS program of Customs and Border Protection began evaluating and selecting the Elbit Hermes 450 platform as part of the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABCI)5 in the summer of 2004.