General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced the successful first flight of its new Avenger Extended Range (ER) aircraft, an extended range version of its multi-mission jet-powered Predator C Avenger which has accumulated over 13,000 flight hours to date. The flight occurred on October 27th at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, California.
«The first flight of Avenger ER is a significant achievement in the evolution of Predator C’s proven performance and multi-mission capability», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «The increased endurance and high payload capacity will deliver tremendous capability to our customers, who need persistent situational awareness and strike mission affordability».
With an increased wingspan of 76 feet/23.16 m and 2,200 pounds/998 kg of additional fuel, Avenger ER extends the legacy Avenger’s already impressive endurance from 15 hours to 20 hours. The RPA provides an optimal balance of long loiter Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and precision-strike capability, supporting a wide array of sensors and weapons payloads to perform ISR and ground support missions. Like the legacy Avenger, Avenger ER features avionics based upon the combat-proven Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, has a 44-foot/13.4-meter long fuselage, 3,000-pound/1,361-kg payload bay, and is capable of flying at over 400 KTAS/460 mph/741 km/h. Avenger ER, along with its predecessor, is designed to carry payloads such as the all-weather GA-ASI Lynx Multi-mode Radar, the MS-177 Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor, and the 2,000-pound/907-kg Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
GA-ASI developed Avenger on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds with the intent of making a RPA that has a quick-response, armed reconnaissance capability. First flown in April 2009, the aircraft’s fuselage was extended by four feet in 2012 to accommodate larger payloads and fuel. Avenger received a FAA-issued Experimental Certificate (EC) in 2016, enabling it to operate in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS).