Guardian RPA commence civil flight demonstration in Japan

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) announced the first flight of the Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in Japan during an opening ceremony on Iki Island.

The demonstration flights, taking place over the next three weeks, intend to promote the civil and scientific applications of the RPA using the GA-ASI manufactured MQ-9 Guardian, a maritime variant of the MQ-9 Reaper combat capable RPA widely flown by US Air Force and its European allies.



The Guardian will collect data and conduct scientific research while operating from the island of Iki, in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture.

The aircraft’s sensors include a long-range maritime surface-search radar, stabilized optical and infrared video cameras, and an active collision-avoidance system which includes a short range air-to-air radar.

This configuration is similar to that operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland security over the maritime approaches to the U.S.

For demonstration purposes, the Guardian flights will consist of approximately 10 five-hour sorties over a three week period, originating out of Iki Airport; however, this aircraft configuration is capable of more than 20 hours endurance in a single sortie.


The Guardian system will demonstrate various missions, including:
  • Meteorological, disaster-relief and oceanic observations
  • Marine accidents and rescue support
  • Air space management and support of communications.

The Guardian RPA is a modified version of the armed MQ-9 Reaper RPA. It has a wingspan of 66 ft (20m), length of 36 ft (11m), Max Gross Takeoff Weight of 11,700 lb (5307 kg), Payload Capacity of 850 lb int. (386 kg) and 3,750 lb ext. (1700 kg).

It can reach a max altitude of 45,000 ft (13716 m), with a max endurance of 23 hrs and a max air speed of 240 KTAS.