General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) on November 19, 2019 completed the first in a series of internally funded Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) demonstrations using a company-owned Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The flight series will continue in 2020 and show that a GE-ER equipped with long-range sensors and Air Launched Effects (ALE) is able to Detect, Identify, Locate and Report (DILR) targetable data to support Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) systems.
“Gray Eagle ER is a critical tool, along with the Army’s manned platforms, for operations in an MDO environment,” said David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI. “We’re excited to show the capability Gray Eagle ER provides due to its increased endurance and range, with the addition of high Technology Readiness Level [TLR] long range sensors and ALE.”
Equipped with the combat-proven Lynx Block 30A Long Range Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI), the GE-ER was able to detect military targets out to a range of 75 km. The Lynx SAR imagery produces precise coordinates with every image, cueing to aviation assets or enabling direct engagement with LRPF. The Lynx SAR has modes for Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI), Dismount Detection on the Dismount Moving Target Indicator (DMTI), Maritime Detection and Maritime Identification with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR). This combination of modes supports MDO operations over land or sea in the Pacific and European theatres.
All flights and future demonstrations will be controlled exclusively using GA-ASI Scalable Command & Control (SC2) software hosted on a laptop computer, drastically reducing the system’s logistical footprint and supporting the Army’s vision for interfaces to the aircraft from across the battlefield without the need for a Ground Control Station shelter or vehicle.
Demonstrations planned in 2020 include integration of additional long range and MDO relevant sensors, communications packages, and launching of ALE from the aircraft. Serving as an ALE mothership, the GE-ER will carry multiple ALEs with a variety of capabilities. The launching and controlling of ALEs from GE-ER could potentially increase the survivability and effectiveness of current and future manned aviation systems with intelligence, targeting, communications, jammers, decoys and kinetic effects.
GE-ER is a long-range variant of the U.S. Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS. It provides the U.S. Army with increased endurance, more payload capacity to support future mission tasking, and considerable improvements in system reliability and maintainability.