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Collins Aerospace’s TCTS Inc. II Air Combat Training System completes successful first flight on a U.S. Navy F/A-18E at Naval Air Station Patuxent River 

  • Marks critical program development milestone for next-generation combat training
  • Brings significant advancements in training capabilities to the US Navy and US Air Force

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (February 1, 2021) –Today, the U.S. Navy completed the successful first flight of the TCTS Inc. II Air Combat Training program on an operational F/A-18E/F Hornet. Developed and built by Collins Aerospace Systems and teammate Leonardo DRS, TCTS Inc. II is a scalable and flexible open architecture system that enables highly secure air combat between Department of the Navy and Air Force aircraft, both 4th and 5th generation platforms. It is also designed to encompass multiple functions that make more efficient use of size, weight, and power while bringing new operational capabilities to the given platform.

Designed to allow pilots to 'train as they fight,' TCTS II securely connects the aircraft to the training space (other aircraft, ground, sensors, and threats) for a realistic training experience. This capability significantly improves training realism in simulated, highly contested combat environments. TCTS II also features Synthetic Inject to Live (SITL) capabilities which connects the live aircraft with synthetic sensors and threats to training in a more realistic environment. TCTS II also collects relevant data to rapidly develop new tactics, techniques, and procedures within a matter of weeks instead of months or years. With the ability to host operational capabilities, it can help connect the battlespace with the ability to run training and tactical waveforms.

"TCTS Inc. II is a massive leap in technology and training realism, and the first flight we witnessed at Pax River brings this program to life," said Heather Robertson, vice president, and general manager, Integrated Solutions for Collins Aerospace. "US Navy and US Air Force pilots will be able to train as they've never been able to train before with secure cross-service air combat training and joint Live, Virtual, and Constructive-enabled capabilities. When it comes to redefining the future of training, this program certainly delivers, and I can't wait to see its full potential realized."

This flight, which is part of the developmental test phase, helps pave the way for the production decision – Milestone C -- for the program, anticipated in 2021.

About Collins Aerospace
Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp. (NYSE: RTX), is a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry. Created in 2018 by bringing together UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins, Collins Aerospace has the capabilities, comprehensive portfolio and expertise to solve customers' toughest challenges and to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global market. For more information, visit


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GA-ASI Plans to Demonstrate Maritime Capability in UK | General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. 

Flight Operations with Maritime-Configured MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian; Events Supported by Multiple European Nations

SAN DIEGO – 03 February 2021 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) announces its plan to take a company-owned SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft to the United Kingdom later this year to undertake a series of operational capability demonstrations for NATO allies, including the Netherlands. The UK's Protector program is a derivative of SkyGuardian with a range of UK modifications and the Royal Air Force (RAF) is supporting this visit.

The GA-ASI aircraft will be configured with maritime capability, including a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System receiver, and a High-Definition, Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. This will build on previous GA-ASI demonstrations showcasing the unmanned advantage, which include the transatlantic flight of SkyGuardian in 2018, maritime demonstrations in Greece in 2019 and last year's validation flights in Japan.

"GA-ASI will work closely with multiple European allies to demonstrate the capabilities of MQ-9B, including in the maritime environment, and how MQ-9B can complement and team within a networked environment with other national assets," said Tommy Dunehew, vice president of International Strategic Development for GA-ASI.

The series of civilian and military capability events is expected to kick off in July at the Royal Air Force's Waddington Air Base and will culminate with the MQ-9B's participation in the UK-led Joint Warrior exercise that will showcase how maritime capabilities can be integrated with other air, surface and land platforms. SkyGuardian flights will further develop GA-ASI's revolutionary Detect and Avoid capability, which will enable Protector to fly in unsegregated UK airspace. It will also assist RAF Waddington, the future home of the RAF Protector fleet, to best prepare to integrate the new aircraft into its daily operations.

MQ-9B represents the next generation of RPA system having demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours, automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM-only control and the Detect and Avoid system. Its development is the result of a company-funded effort to deliver an RPA that can meet the stringent airworthiness certification requirements of various military and civil authorities.

MQ-9B has garnered significant interest from customers throughout the world. The UK Ministry of Defence selected MQ-9B SkyGuardian for its Protector program, and in 2020 signed the production contract for deliveries to the Royal Air Force. SkyGuardian was selected by the Australian Defence Force under Project Air 7003, and the Belgian Ministry of Defense signed a contract for SkyGuardian.

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 six 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

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


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