General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, has announced that its Gray Eagle® Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has reached a record 20,000 successful automatic launch and recoveries with the Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLS). This milestone was achieved on September 25 and comes just 15 months after reaching 10,000 events in June 2012.
ATLS has been deployed at eight sites worldwide, including three overseas, with four additional sites planned by January 2015. Recently, successful ATLS flight testing was performed in support of a reduced Takeoff and Landing pattern for operations in limited air space.
“In addition to providing the Army with significant cost savings through optimized operator workload and training, Gray Eagle’s ATLS continues to increase the aircraft’s reliability,” said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “These last 10,000 takeoffs and landings were achieved without a single event of significant damage.”
Currently flying 3,200 flight hours per month, the Army’s Gray Eagle Block 1 aircraft has accumulated more than 80,000 flight hours since it was first deployed in 2009. The fleet has grown to 75 aircraft delivered, with another 34 planned within the next 14 months. Within the last year, cumulative flight hours were up 64 percent as Gray Eagle continues to provide unrivaled and innovative capabilities to the war fighter.
A technologically advanced derivative of the combat-proven Predator® RPA, Gray Eagle is dedicated to direct operational control by Army field commanders. Its expansive mission set includes persistent, broad-area Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); convoy protection; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection; providing aerial imagery to combat patrols; pattern of life analysis; and precision weapons delivery. A key force multiplier, Gray Eagle has an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)-only endurance of 25 hours, an operating altitude of up to 25,000 feet, and a payload capacity of over 1,000 lb.