Tag Archives: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

Demonstration Flights

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) today announced the first flight of the Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in Japan during an opening ceremony on Iki Island. The demonstration flights, taking place over the next three weeks, intend to promote the civil and scientific applications of the RPA.

GA-ASI Begins Demonstration Flights in Japan
GA-ASI Begins Demonstration Flights in Japan

«We thank the Mayor of Iki and the many other public and private stakeholders for their making this demonstration possible», said Linden Blue, CEO GA-ASI. «We believe that these flights of long-endurance RPAs in Japan’s maritime environment will provide valuable information, and we look forward to reviewing the important data gathered from these flights».

Mayor Shirakawa provided a statement, which said: «We are delighted to host the RPA flight demonstration on our island of Iki. The demonstration is an important milestone for the many peaceful uses of RPAs, including maritime disaster security and maritime resource management. Iki is located near the boundaries of Japan, so surveillance capabilities are an important matter for us. Furthermore, holding the nation’s first demonstration of this kind has great economic significance for our island. I thank the national government’s ministries and agencies and the many other public and private stakeholders for their cooperation».

The Guardian will collect data for scientific research that will be shared across multiple government agencies, while operating from the island of Iki, in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture.

This is the first demonstration of a long endurance RPA by a private company in Japan. The aircraft’s sensors include a long-range maritime surface-search radar, stabilized optical and infrared video cameras, and an active collision-avoidance system, which includes a short range air-to-air radar. This configuration is similar to that operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland security over the maritime approaches to the U.S.

For demonstration purposes, the Guardian flights will consist of approximately 10 five-hour sorties over a three-week period, originating out of Iki Airport; however, this aircraft configuration is capable of more than 20 hours endurance in a single sortie. The Guardian system will demonstrate various missions, including:

  • Meteorological, disaster-relief and oceanic observations;
  • Marine accidents and rescue support;
  • Air space management and support of communications.

GA-ASI is leading the demonstrations in cooperation with Iki Airport personnel and Japanese national authorities. The sensor data collected by Guardian will be provided to scientific research institutions, and flight data will be given to airspace management organizations to help establish procedures for using RPA systems in national and international civil airspace.

GA-ASI has sent its own team of experienced RPA pilots, sensor operators, and maintenance personnel to Japan to ensure safe operations during all phases of the demonstration. The demonstration is funded by GA-ASI and the equipment used belongs to the company.

Flight Testing

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, today announced the commencement of flight testing for its MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (ER) series with the successful first flight of the company’s production representative MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER aircraft from its El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, California, on October 29th.

Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER)
Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER)

«The flight of our capital MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is a significant milestone in the continued evolution of the MQ-1C program with our U.S. Army customer», said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. «This marks the next step in delivering the aircraft’s increased endurance and payload capability to the warfighter».

MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER, developed by GA-ASI on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) specifically to increase endurance and payload capacity, is a next-generation derivative of the combat-proven Gray Eagle UAS, which has accumulated over 300,000 flight hours since 2008. MQ-1C ER is expected to complete flight testing in June 2017, at which point it will begin a series of Army test events culminating in the program’s second Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation in late 2017. The first four aircraft are expected to be delivered in Q2 and Q3 2017, with an additional 15 over the course of 2018.

MQ-1C ER delivers an advanced Medium-altitude Long-endurance (MALE) capability for the Army, adding increased payload capacity, greater range and endurance, and improved maintainability. The aircraft is engineered with a Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight (MGTOW) of 4,200 pounds/1,905 kg compared with Gray Eagle’s MGTOW of 3,600 pounds/1,633 kg. The incorporation of MQ-1C ER’s straight belly design allows for more than 910 pounds/413 kg of internal fuel and a centerline hard point that can accommodate an optional fuel pod with an additional 450 pounds/204 kg. With endurance at more than 40 hours, the aircraft will exceed the Army’s requirement for 14 hours on station at 621 miles/1,000 kilometers for all mission types.

MQ-1C ER features an upgraded Heavy Fuel Engine-180 (HFE-180) which provides increased horsepower and reliability. HFE-180 includes propulsion reliability enhancements, an improved cooling system and high-performance induction system. The new engine began flight tests on Block 1 Gray Eagle in February 2016.

MQ-1C ER’s enhanced capabilities will expand the tactical range for Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance (ISR), electronic warfare, and attack missions for the U.S. Army and other prospective customers.

CPB Takes Flight

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 that its Type-Certifiable Predator B (TCPB) variant completed its first flight test at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility near Palmdale, California, on November 17th.

GA-ASI's Type-Certifiable Predator B Takes Flight
GA-ASI’s Type-Certifiable Predator B Takes Flight

«The first flight of our Certifiable Predator-B aircraft is a major milestone in our progression towards delivering a RPA that meets all NATO airworthiness requirements», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «The CPB is the first RPA system of its kind to be compliant with an international type-certification standard, and can therefore be more easily integrated into civil airspace operations around the world».

Qualification testing for type certification will continue over the next two years, with deliveries to the UK Royal Air Force, expected to begin in late 2018. To facilitate qualification testing, GA-ASI is building three company-owned aircraft, along with two airframes designed specifically for full-scale fatigue and static testing.

GA-ASI began its internally-funded development effort to modify Predator B in 2012. The type-certifiable aircraft is fully compliant with NATO’s UAV SYSTEM AIRWORTHINESS REQUIREMENTS (defined in STANAG 4671) and the related UK DEFSTAN 00-970. TCPB will be offered in several configurations, including an unweaponized maritime patrol variant to support open-ocean and littoral surface surveillance for border patrol, coast guard, and disaster relief missions.

 

Key Characteristics

Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight 12,500 lbs/5,670 kg
Wing Span 79 feet/24 m
Length 38 feet/11.6 m
Fuel 5,972 lbs/2,708 kg
Endurance >40 hrs
Maximum Altitude >45,000 feet/13,716 m
Max Airspeed 200 KTAS/230 mph/370 km/h

 

First Avenger ER flight

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.

Avenger Continues to Grow in Endurance and Capability
Avenger Continues to Grow in Endurance and Capability

«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).

Avenger is a highly advanced, next-generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)
Avenger is a highly advanced, next-generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

U2-Class Surveillance

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, on June 13 announced the successful flight tests of Predator C Avenger, equipped with a MS-177 Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor manufactured by UTC Aerospace Systems.

Avenger is a highly advanced, next-generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)
Avenger is a highly advanced, next-generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

MS-177, an advanced sensor in UTC’s SYERS family of sensors, is a key component that supports GA-ASI’s effort to equip Avenger with a long-range imaging capability. MS-177 is more technically advanced than the SYERS 2 flying on U-2 aircraft and also is significantly more affordable to manufacture. The sensor is a 7-band multi-spectral system that can be upgraded to a 10-band system to enhance target detection for maritime applications.

«Avenger and MS-177 deliver a game-changing capability that dramatically alters the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) landscape», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «A MS-177-equipped Avenger provides a strategic ISR capability at a fraction of the cost of other ISR collecting platforms, offering high-resolution imagery from significant standoff ranges, thereby expanding the situational awareness of the warfighter greatly».

During government-funded testing, Avenger demonstrated its ability to collect high-resolution imagery of land-based and littoral objects with the MS-177 sensor at altitudes above 37,000 feet/11,277.6 m Mean Sea Level (MSL). A total of seven test flights occurred between January and February 2016 at Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, California.

GA-ASI plans to begin flight testing of an Improved Avenger in October 2016, which will further enhance the operational capabilities of the MS-177. With an increased wingspan of 76 feet/23 m, Improved Avenger will extend the aircraft’s already impressive endurance from 15 hours to 20 hours, thus increasing the utility of MS-177 over a longer period of time. Improved Avenger will provide an optimal balance of long loiter ISR and precision-strike capability, supporting a wide array of sensors and weapons payloads to perform high-speed, long-endurance, multi-mission ISR and ground support missions.

An extended range variant of Avenger will be available which will feature a 76-foot wingspan and increased fuel capacity that will increase the aircraft's endurance to 20 hours
An extended range variant of Avenger will be available which will feature a 76-foot wingspan and increased fuel capacity that will increase the aircraft’s endurance to 20 hours

 

Performance

Maximum Altitude 50,000 feet/15,240 m
Maximum Endurance 18 hours
Maximum Airspeed 400 KTAS/460 mph/740 km/h
Powerplant Pratt and Whitney PW545B turbofan engine
Thrust 4,800 pounds/2,177 kg

 

Next-Gen Predator

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, announced on February 25 the successful first flight of Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range (ER) Long Wing, retrofitted with improved long-endurance wings with greater internal fuel capacity and additional hard points for carrying external stores. The flight occurred on February 18 at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Test Facility in Palmdale, California, on a test aircraft.

Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements
Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements

«Predator B ER’s new 79-foot/24-meter wing span not only boosts the RPA’s endurance and range, but also serves as proof-of-concept for the next-generation Predator B aircraft that will be designed for Type-Certification and airspace integration», said Linden Blue, CEO. «The wing was designed to conform to STANAG 4671 (NATO Airworthiness Standard for RPA systems), and includes lightning and bird strike protection, non-destructive testing, and advanced composite and adhesive materials for extreme environments».

During the flight, Predator B ER Long Wing demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to 7,500 feet/2,286 m (initial flight test altitude), complete basic airworthiness maneuvers, and land without incident. A subsequent test program will be conducted to verify full operational capability.

Developed on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds, the new wing span is 13-feet/4 meter longer, increasing the aircraft’s endurance from 27 hours to over 40 hours. Additional improvements include short-field takeoff and landing performance and spoilers on the wings which enable precision automatic landings. The wings also have provisions for leading-edge de-ice and integrated low- and high-band RF antennas. An earlier version of Predator B ER featuring two wing-mounted fuel tanks is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper ER.

The long wings are the first components to be produced as part of GA-ASI’s Certifiable Predator B (CPB) development project, which will lead to a certifiable production aircraft in early 2018. Further hardware and software upgrades planned for CPB will include improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance, more robust flight control software, and enhancements allowing operations in adverse weather.

 

FEATURES

  • Triple-redundant flight control system
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
  • MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
  • C-Band line-of-sight data link control
  • Ku-Band beyond line-of-sight/SATCOM data link control
  • Over 90% system operational availability
  • C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)
Certifiable Predator B will be designed to survive bird and lightning strikes
Certifiable Predator B will be designed to survive bird and lightning strikes

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Wing Span 79 feet/24 m
Length 36 feet/11 m
Powerplant Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine
Maximum Gross Take-off Weight (MGTOW) 10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
Fuel Capacity 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Payload Capacity 850 lbs int./386 kg
3,000 lbs ext./1,361 kg
Payloads Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-B) Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR)
Lynx Multi-mode Radar
Multi-mode maritime radar
Automated Identification System (AIS)
SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT)/Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system
Communications relay
Power 11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)
Maximum Altitude 50,000 feet/15,240 m
Maximum Endurance 40+ hr
Max Air Speed 200 KTAS/230 mph/370 km/h