The Air Force Research Laboratory’s AgilePod performed a series of flight tests aboard a Douglas DC-3 aircraft in preparation for integration on an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle later this year. Reconfigurable on the flight-line, the AgilePod enables operators to meet a variety of mission sets with multiple sensors on a single platform. The 1943-model DC-3 used, N92578, is owned and operated by Airborne Imaging Inc, based at Midlothian, Texas.
A Block 5 MQ-9 Reaper, upgraded with new electrical and communications systems, loaded with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, a GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb and a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition. On June 23, 2017, a Block 5 Reaper flew the variant’s first combat sortie in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. During the 16-hour mission, the crew employed one GBU-38 and two Hellfire missiles while providing hours of armed reconnaissance for ground forces.
As the F-35 Lightning II continues to assume more operational tasking, operators are becoming ever familiar with its ISR capabilities provided by sensors like the APG-81 AESA radar, AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System, AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Targeting System and the ASQ-239 Barracuda electronic warfare suite.