General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has completed a month-long series of demonstrations with its Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), intended to showcase the aircraft’s long-range sensors, Air Launched Effects (ALE) and Scalable Command and Control (SC2) system. This series marked the third round of demonstrations, which the GE-ER performed for the U.S. Army at the Yuma Proving Grounds.
The GE-ER, in flight at 25,000 feet, used its Communications Intelligence (COMINT) payload and integrated antenna array to identify emitters, providing single aircraft geo-location and cross-cueing to the onboard Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to produce precision coordinates sufficient for targeting within minutes. The COMINT system used by the aircraft is the L3Harris Rio Nino, which can detect emitters out to 250 km. It was combined with GA-ASI’s Lynx Multi-mode Radar with SAR.
The UAS also gathered Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) using a Sierra Nevada Small SWAP Auto-ELINT (SSAE) system. The ELINT detections were cross-cued to the Lynx SAR for rapid processing of target identification and targeting coordinates.
GA-ASI also conducted the first-ever launch and control of ALEs from the GE-ER. These Altius-600 ALEs, manufactured by Area-I, are smaller drones equipped with interchangeable payloads that can be used to perform recon, decoy, jamming, and kinetic missions. During the demonstration, they provided real-time full-motion video to simulated ground forces over a Tactical Scalable Mobile (TSM) network.
The GE-ER also acted as a Tactical Scalable Mobile Ad-hoc Networking node, relaying voice and data to displaced users during the demonstration. All flight activities (including preflight, taxi, mission profiles and landing) were controlled from a GA-ASI laptop-based SC2 system, a new ground control station that reduced emplacement and mission launch timelines by 75% from the currently-fielded station.
GE-ER is a long-range variant of the U.S. Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS, designed to provide up to 40 hours of endurance with the capability to orchestrate forces in the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) environment. The next demonstration in the series will be flight testing of the aircraft’s 200 HP Enhanced Heavy Fuel Engine and dual 7.5kw brushless generators.
David R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI, commented: “We set out on a mission to demonstrate survivability and capability to the U.S. Army through strong industry partnerships in a cost conscious and affordable way. The goal was to take the Army’s concepts and put the power of industry innovation to work to make them a reality. We are in the business of solving problems and ensuring the U.S. Army Soldier has overmatch on the battlefield.”