The Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing is demonstrating a suite of new MQ-9 capabilities that could change the way it flies the Reaper.
From May 3 to 14, the wing will fly three pods -- aimed at boosting the unmanned aircraft's networking and intelligence capabilities -- during U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's Northern Edge Exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, AK, the Air Force announced in a May 6 press release.
The pods, which are part of the Ghost Reaper capability suite, include: Rosetta Echo Advanced Payloads (REAP) pod, Centerline Avionics Bay Pod and Freedom Pod.
According to the Air Force's release, the ongoing flights are meant to demonstrate "a higher level of integration with additional air and ground-based assets."
Inside Defense reported last September that the Ghost Reaper effort was being developed "under the radar" as a way to transition some ANG MQ-9s to better enable joint all-domain command and control. ANG is using its National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account funding to pay for the effort.
The Guard held an initial operational assessment of the REAP pod last summer and the 174th ATKW flew the pod during a demonstration last August.