Photo: Courtesy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

After rewriting the rules of war on the ground, unmanned aircraft systems are raising their sights.

The MQ-1 Predator and its successors made their mark by constantly looking down, changing the nature of combat because they could stay aloft indefinitely, when working in teams, and provide not only invaluable intelligence to ground forces but precise, lethal support.

The nature of warfare itself, however, is changing, which means that UAS must evolve to keep up. In the case of those built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., they’re setting the pace.

A wave of new aircraft, systems and capabilities mean the coming chapter of aviation will be as much about assigning counter-air roles to the successors of the Predator as sustaining their proven record in supporting ground troops and other current missions.

The MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-9B SkyGuardian and other new aircraft and systems give both ground and air commanders…