General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) will enhance the capabilities and survivability of the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for the US Army.
The Army awarded GA-ASI multiple contracts to upgrade the Gray Eagle ER’s avionics, datalinks and software in order to improve its operational capability in contested environments.
The modernisation initiative includes an open architecture concept on the aircraft so government-owned software can be hosted on the platform, as well as increased autonomy required to support Scalable Control Interface and the rapid integration of long-range sensors. These enhancements support the Army’s vision for Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) in space, cyber, air, sea and land.
GA-ASI recently completed an open competition to modernise datalinks on the platform. Tenets for the “best of breed” datalink competition included a modular architecture with government-owned interfaces, a reduction in size, weight and power, with increased reliability, soldier maintainability, and growth for future MDO requirements.
Vendors selected include L3Harris Technologies, Airbus, Hughes Network Systems, LLC and Ramona Research.
GA-ASI said the modernised datalink solution, while significantly more capable, will cost less per aircraft than the current datalink suite.
In October 2019, GA-ASI announced that the Grey Eagle would be upgraded to carry heavier payloads, including the ability to launch Small Glide Munitions.