General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. used an Avenger drone equipped with a Lockheed Martin Legion Pod on July 2 to track and follow targets for the first time autonomously. This demonstration, over the high desert of southern California, brings military aviators one step closer to autonomous systems that fully “support Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) in joint all-domain operations.”

While air-to-air tracking and following targets using an aircraft or drone is a standard procedure, it typically relies on radar to locate and lock the target. Radar is highly effective, but there are several reasons why it isn’t always available, including:

  • It may be required to fly without radar for stealth purposes.
  • Hostile forces might use radar jamming systems.
  • There may be too much radio interference or background clutter for the radar to operate accurately.

To overcome this, Lockheed Martin developed its 98.5-inch-long (2.5-m) and 16-in-wide (41-cm) Legion Pod, replacing active…