Tag Archives: General Atomics

AAG first fly-in

Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) completes a first-of-its-kind recovery of an F/A-18E Super Hornet at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, October 13. This event, conducted as part of AAG performance testing with the Super Hornet, follows more than 200 roll-in arrestments completed at the site since late March. The AAG test team conducted more than 1,300 dead-load arrestments on the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft recovery system before involving manned aircraft.

Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) completes a first-of-its-kind recovery of an Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23-assigned F/A-18E Super Hornet at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, October 13 (U.S. Navy photo)
Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) completes a first-of-its-kind recovery of an Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23-assigned F/A-18E Super Hornet at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, October 13 (U.S. Navy photo)

«This milestone test event demonstrates AAG’s capability and signifies a big step forward in getting the system ready for duty on board the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier», said Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (PMA-251) program manager Captain Stephen Tedford.

Computer-generated design of a complete one-wire Advanced Arresting Gear system schematic (U.S. Navy graphic)
Computer-generated design of a complete one-wire Advanced Arresting Gear system schematic (U.S. Navy graphic)

While roll-in and fly-in arrestments are essentially the same to the AAG system, conducting both types of traps enables the test team to ensure all operational conditions that the system will experience are tested. At the completion of AAG performance testing, an Aircraft Recovery Bulletin will be generated, allowing system testing with manned aircraft aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) to progress.

The Advanced Arresting Gear Cable Shock Absorber (CSA) absorbs the initial kink wave of energy created when the arresting aircraft’s tailhook engages the cross deck pendant, or wire (U.S. Navy photo)
The Advanced Arresting Gear Cable Shock Absorber (CSA) absorbs the initial kink wave of energy created when the arresting aircraft’s tailhook engages the cross deck pendant, or wire (U.S. Navy photo)

AAG is a modular, integrated system consisting of energy absorbers, power conditioning equipment and digital controls, designed as the follow-on to the Mark-7 (Mk-7) arresting gear. The U.S. Navy is currently utilizing the Mk-7 Mod 3 and Mk-7 Mod 4 designs on all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. AAG is a new system developed for the Navy’s future aircraft carriers and will make its debut aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment program’s Advanced Arresting Gear team accepts delivery December 11, 2009, and installs the conical/cable drum assembly at the Jet Car Track Site (JCTS) being constructed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey (U.S. Navy photo)
The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment program’s Advanced Arresting Gear team accepts delivery December 11, 2009, and installs the conical/cable drum assembly at the Jet Car Track Site (JCTS) being constructed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey (U.S. Navy photo)

The AAG architecture, Health Monitoring Assessment and Prognostics technology, and digital control system provides built-in test and diagnosis, resulting in the system requiring less maintenance and manpower to operate than the Mk-7. This change in architecture is designed to provide higher reliability and safety margins, while allowing Sailors to focus on other areas of need. The system is also designed to allow potential arrestment of a broader range of aircraft, from the lightest unmanned aerial vehicles to the heaviest manned fighters.

The Advanced Arresting Gear team guides an electric motor as it is lowered into the pit at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS). The team has been working for months to prepare the site for commissioning and live aircraft arrestment testing slated for late 2015 (U.S. Navy photo)
The Advanced Arresting Gear team guides an electric motor as it is lowered into the pit at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS). The team has been working for months to prepare the site for commissioning and live aircraft arrestment testing slated for late 2015 (U.S. Navy photo)

AAG benefits:

  • Employs advanced technologies to provide higher reliability and safety margins;
  • Requires less maintenance and manpower to operate than the legacy arresting system;
  • Recovers all current and projected future carrier-based aircraft, from the lightest unmanned aerial vehicles to the heaviest manned fighters;
  • Allows for increased sortie rates, lower energy consumption and a decreased gross ship weight.

AAG Traps First Fly-In

 

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

 

Blitzer railgun

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced on 08 January 2016 that projectiles with prototype components for a Control and Actuation System (CAS) successfully performed programmed actions and communicated component performance to a ground station via a telemetry link in tests carried out 7-10 December 2015 at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Fired at accelerations greater than 30,000 times that of gravity from GA-EMS’ 3 mega joule Blitzer electromagnetic railgun, the four test projectiles and the critical components within them experienced the multi-Tesla electromagnetic field within the launcher and performed as expected.

During the December test firings, the projectiles of GA’s electro-magnetic gun survived and operated under the 30,000 G-force and multi-Tesla magnetic field launch conditions
During the December test firings, the projectiles of GA’s electro-magnetic gun survived and operated under the 30,000 G-force and multi-Tesla magnetic field launch conditions

«We continue to mature railgun projectile technologies and conduct testing under varied open range, real-world conditions», stated Nick Bucci, Vice President Missile Defense Systems, GA-EMS. «We remain committed to advancing this transformational weapon system and are making significant progress in the development and testing of multi-mission railgun projectiles and critical component technologies».

During the December test firings, the projectiles not only survived and operated under the 30,000 G-force and multi-Tesla magnetic field launch conditions, but also successfully performed under ambient operating temperatures ranging between 20 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with up to 4 inches of snow on the ground, and with wind conditions ranging from 10 to 50 knots. To date, projectiles have been open range tested under temperatures varying from minus 11 degrees to as high as 105 degrees.

In June, 2015, GA-EMS successfully tested and received data from projectiles with on-board electronics, and marked the 100th launch of its 3 mega joule Blitzer testing prototype railgun weapon system. After the December test series, the Blitzer railgun system has performed 120 successful launches. Risk reduction and technology maturation testing of additional components will continue in 2016.

GA-EMS’ Blitzer railgun is a test asset designed and manufactured by GA-EMS to advance technology development toward multi-mission railgun weapon systems. Railguns launch projectiles using electromagnetic forces instead of chemical propellants and can deliver muzzle velocities greater than twice those of conventional guns. Blitzer railgun technology, when integrated into a weapon system that includes the launcher, high density capacitor driven pulsed power, and weapon fire control system, can launch multi-mission projectiles with shorter time-to-target and greater effectiveness at longer range.

3-megajoule railgun

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced on June 22 that projectiles with on-board electronics survived the railgun launch environment and performed their intended functions in four consecutive tests on 9-10 June at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The week of test activity included marking the 100th successful launch from the GA-EMS’ 3 megajoule Blitzer electromagnetic railgun.

Blitzer 3-megajoule Electromagnetic Railgun
Blitzer 3-megajoule Electromagnetic Railgun

«This is a significant milestone in the technology development toward a railgun weapon system and marks the first time flight dynamics data have been successfully measured and down-linked from an aerodynamic projectile fired from our railgun on an open test range», stated Nick Bucci, Vice President Missile Defense Systems, GA Electromagnetic Systems Group. «GA-EMS’ successful testing and on-going investment to advance our scalable railgun and projectile technologies illustrates our commitment to mature this transformational weapon system and provide the warfighter multi-mission advantages across several platforms».

During the week of testing, the electronics on-board the projectiles successfully measured in-bore accelerations and projectile dynamics, for several kilometers downrange, with the integral data link continuing to operate after the projectiles impacted the desert floor. On-board measurement of flight dynamics is essential for precision guidance. The test projectiles were launched at accelerations over 30,000 times that of gravity and were exposed to the full electromagnetic environment of the railgun launch.

GA-EMS’ Blitzer railgun is a test asset designed and manufactured by GA-EMS to advance technology development toward multi-mission weapon systems. Railguns launch projectiles using electromagnetic forces instead of chemical propellants and can deliver muzzle velocities greater than twice those of conventional guns. Blitzer railgun technology, when integrated into a weapon system that includes the launcher, high-density capacitor driven pulsed power, and weapon fire control system, can launch multi-mission projectiles with shorter time-to-target and greater effectiveness at longer range.

GA provides energy storage units for U.S. Navy 32-megajoule Railgun
GA provides energy storage units for U.S. Navy 32-megajoule Railgun

 

Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics

The Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics (GA-EMS) is actively working to bring electromagnetic railgun technology to the Department of Defense for multiple missions: integrated air and missile defense, surface fire support and anti-surface warfare.

GA-EMS’s expertise in electromagnetics stems from GA’s long history in high power electrical systems, from developing and building both fission and fusion reactors, through the Navy’s first electromagnetic launch and recovery equipment for aircraft carriers.

GA-EMS has developed, built and successfully tested two railguns, the internally funded the Blitzer 3 MJ system and a 32 MJ launcher for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). GA-EMS also designed and built the pulse power supply for both guns and is developing projectiles for air and missile defense and precision strike.

GA-EMS is continuing the Blitzer family of railguns with a 10 MJ system designed for mobile and fixed land-based applications.

Railguns deliver muzzle velocities up to twice those of conventional guns, resulting in shorter time to target and higher lethality at greater range with no propellant required onboard the platform. Railguns offer much deeper magazines and lower cost per engagement compared with missiles of comparable range.

Shorter time to the target and extended range

Railguns can reliably launch projectiles to muzzle velocities of Mach 6-7+. A round fired at sea level can reach the horizon in 6 to 7 seconds and still be traveling faster than a conventional gun‑launched munition at its muzzle.

Lethality without high explosives

Hypervelocity impact achieves high lethality through kinetic energy, eliminating the safety and logistic burdens of explosives.

Multi-mission capability

Railgun weapon systems employ guided, maneuverable projectiles, which can accomplish multiple missions with the same round. Railguns can also fire a family of different projectiles with varying capabilities, levels of sophistication, and cost.

Elimination of propellant

Because rounds are launched electromagnetically, propellant is not required. This results in much smaller rounds, enabling many more stowed rounds in a constrained volume as well as improved safety and reduced logistics burden.

Lower cost

The confluence of microelectronics, nanotechnologies, and electromagnetic acceleration enable missile performance without rocket motors. Railgun-launched guided projectiles are expected to be much lower cost than current assets for integrated air and missile defense.

Higher firepower

With deep magazines and high, sustained firing rates, railguns provide unprecedented firepower.

Reduced Asymmetry

The lower cost and higher firepower of railguns levels the playing field with potential adversaries.

General Atomics Railgun Projectile Development Passes Critical Tests at U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground

Third French 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 May 29 that it has delivered a third Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper RPA to the French Ministry of Defense. Delivered less than two months after contract award, the aircraft joins two other French Reapers in service, which together have accumulated over 4,000 flight hours since operations began in January 2014.

USAF MQ-9 Reaper
USAF MQ-9 Reaper

«This latest order from the French Defense Procurement and Technology Agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement – DGA) is a testament to Reaper’s ability to enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) of the French Air Force in support of national, NATO, and other coalition operations», said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI.

Pilots and sensor operators from Drone Squadron 1/33 ‘Belfort,’ 709 Air Base Cognac-Château Bernard are performing mission operations to include delivering increased battlefield situational awareness, augmenting combat search and rescue, and providing ground troop support. A total of 12 aircraft are planned to be in service by 2019.

The multi-mission Predator B is a long-endurance, medium-high-altitude RPA that can be used for ISR as well as targeting missions. The current aircraft configuration features an extensive payload capacity (850 lbs/386 kg internally, 3,000 lbs/1,361 kg externally), with a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet/15,240 meters, and can stay aloft for up to 27 hours.

Predator B is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper and with the Italian Air Force as MQ-9. Predator B provides unparalleled close air support and persistent situational awareness over land or sea to coalition forces, demonstrating proven NATO interoperability. Some 240 Predator B aircraft have amassed more than one million flight hours since its first flight in 2001.

Italian Air Force MQ-9
Italian Air Force MQ-9

 

Predator B RPA

Designated MQ-9 Reaper by its U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force customers, the turboprop-powered, multi-mission Predator B RPA was developed with GA-ASI funding and provides significantly greater capabilities than Predator. First flown in 2001, Predator B is a highly sophisticated development built on the experience gained with the company’s battle-proven Predator RPA and is a major evolutionary leap forward in overall performance and reliability.

Featuring unmatched operational flexibility, Predator B has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS/276 mph/444 km/h, can operate up to 50,000 feet/15,240 meters, and has a 3,850-pound (1,746 kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of external stores. Twice as fast as Predator, the aircraft carries 500% more payload and has nine times the horsepower. It provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance/strike capability for the war fighter.

An extremely reliable aircraft, Predator B is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.

Predator B is powered by the flight-certified and proven Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, integrated with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC), which significantly improves engine performance and fuel efficiency, particularly at low altitudes.

NASA Predator B ("Ikhana")
NASA Predator B (“Ikhana”)

The aircraft is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements. Predator B is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads to include:

  • Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR);
  • Lynx Multi-mode Radar;
  • Multi-mode maritime surveillance radar;
  • Electronic Support Measures (ESM);
  • Laser designators;
  • Various weapons packages.

Predator B continues to improve and evolve, making it more relevant for its customers’ emerging needs. A new variant, Predator B ER, has been designed with field-retrofittable capabilities such as wing-borne fuel pods and a new reinforced landing gear that extends the aircraft’s already impressive endurance from 27 hours to 34 hours while further increasing its operational flexibility.

In 2016, the aircraft will evolve again when its wingspan will grow from 66 feet/20 meters to 79 feet/24 meters to hold the fuel that was previously stored in the fuel pods. This configuration will deliver 42 hours of endurance.

This aircraft has been acquired by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Royal Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the French Air Force, and soon others.

Guardian (Maritime Predator B Variant)
Guardian (Maritime Predator B Variant)

 

Features

  • Triple-redundant flight control system
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
  • MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
  • 7 external stations for carriage of payloads
  • C-Band line-of-sight data link control
  • Ku-Band Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS)/SATCOM data link control
  • Over 90% system operational availability
  • C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)
Predator B ER
Predator B ER

Characteristics

Wing Span 66 feet/20 m
Length 36 feet/11 m
Powerplant Honeywell TPE331-10
Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) 10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
Fuel Capacity 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Payload Capacity 850 lbs/386 kg internally
3,000 lbs/1,361 kg externally
Power 11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)
Maximum Altitude 50,000 feet/15,240 m
Max Endurance 27 hours
Maximum Air Speed 240 KTAS/276 mph/444 km/h
Weapons Hellfire missiles
GBU-12 laser-guided bombs
GBU-38 JDAM
GBU-49 laser-JDAM
Payloads MTS-B EO/IR
Lynx Multi-mode Radar
Multi-mode maritime radar
Automated Identification System (AIS)
SIGINT/ESM system
Communications relay

 

Perform multi-mission Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and “Hunter-Killer” missions over land or sea

Go to HELLADS

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 May 21, 2015 that the High-Energy Liquid Laser (HELLADS) completed the U.S. Government Acceptance Test Procedure and is now being shipped to the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico. At WSMR, the laser will undergo an extensive series of live fire tests against a number of military targets.

The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 × 0.4 × 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms
The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 × 0.4 × 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms

The HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) is designed to demonstrate the efficacy of a tactical laser weapon in Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (CRAM), Counter-Air and Counter-Missile applications, as well as a number of special applications. The 150 kW Class HELLADS laser has been developed over a number of years to create a completely new approach to electrically powered lasers with sufficiently low size, weight, and power consumption to enable deployment on a number of tactical platforms.

«HELLADS represents a new generation of tactical weapon systems with the potential to revolutionize sovereign defenses and provide a significant tactical advantage to our war-fighters», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «It is remarkable to see high-power laser technology mature into an extremely compact weapons system and be deployed for field tests. It will be even more remarkable to witness the impact that this will have on U.S. Defense capability».

The HELLADS laser was developed through a series of stage/gate phases beginning with a physics demonstration and progressing through a series of laser demonstrators at increasing power levels. At each stage, DARPA required beam quality, laser power, efficiency, size, and weight objectives to be demonstrated. The program also developed the world’s highest brightness laser diodes, compact battery storage, and thermal storage systems, and improved the manufacturing process and size of specialized laser materials and optics.

The HELLADS DLWS holds the world’s record for the highest laser output power of any electrically powered laser. Doctor Michael Perry, vice president of Laser and Electro-Optic Systems for GA-ASI, credits DARPA with a unique capability to foster, nurture, and support such a development. «The HELLADS team of program managers, technical support, and DARPA senior management has worked to address the challenges of developing a completely new technology. Additionally, if it were not for the hard work of our scientists and engineers, we could not have succeeded. This is the most challenging program that I have been associated with», said David Friend, HELLADS Program Manager, GA-ASI. «This program has advanced the state-of-the-art in so many areas».

The pioneering HELLADS DLWS represents the first generation of the technology. Through other U.S. Government programs separate from the DARPA-supported work, GA-ASI has demonstrated, second and third Generation versions of the technology, which significantly increase the efficiency and reduce the size, weight, and power consumption for the system while increasing the beam quality.

The third Generation system is currently being incorporated into a Tactical Laser Weapon Module designed for integration into both manned and unmanned aircraft systems. «Even as we begin development of the fourth Generation system, I am looking forward to seeing HELLADS perform in the live fire tests», said Doctor Perry. «The laser technology is a means to an end. What matters is the new and cost-effective capability that we can bring to our country».

Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels
Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels

Generation 3 HEL

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 (8 April, 2015) that an independent measurement team contracted by the U.S. Government has completed beam quality and power measurements of GA-ASI’s Generation 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL) using the Joint Technology Office (JTO) Government Diagnostic System (GDS).

The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets will be demonstrated
The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets will be demonstrated

«These measurements confirm the exceptional beam quality of the Generation 3 HEL, the next-generation leader in electrically-pumped lasers», said Claudio Pereida, executive vice president, Mission Systems, GA-ASI.

The new laser represents the third generation of technology originally developed under the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS, Generation 1) program. The goal of the HELLADS program was to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. The Generation 3 Laser employs a number of upgrades resulting in improved beam quality, increased electrical to optical efficiency, and reduced size and weight.

General Atomics’ third-generation tactical laser weapon module is sized to be carried on its Avenger unmanned aircraft
General Atomics’ third-generation tactical laser weapon module is sized to be carried on its Avenger unmanned aircraft

The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3×0.4×0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms.

The Generation 3 HEL tested is a unit cell for the Tactical Laser Weapon Module (TLWM) currently under development. Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels.

Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated, creating a need for rapid and effective response to this growing category of threats
Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated, creating a need for rapid and effective response to this growing category of threats

The GDS was employed by an independent measurement team to evaluate the beam quality of the Generation 3 system over a range of operating power and run time. According to JTO’s Jack Slater, «The system produced the best beam quality from a high energy laser that we have yet measured with the GDS. We were impressed to see that the beam quality remained constant with increasing output power and run-time».

With run time limited only by the magazine depth of the battery system, beam quality was constant throughout the entire run at greater than 30 seconds. These measurements confirm that the exceptional beam quality of this new generation of electrically pumped lasers is maintained above the 50-kilowatt level.

Following this evaluation, the independent team will use the GDS again to conduct beam quality measurements of the GA-ASI HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS). The HELLADS DLWS includes a 150-kilowatt class laser with integrated power and thermal management.

Features/Benefits:

  • lightweight and compact;
  • increased engagement range;
  • counters tactical targets.
The HELLADS programme involves development of a 150 kW laser weapon system to counter ground threats such as RAM and surface-to-air missiles
The HELLADS programme involves development of a 150 kW laser weapon system to counter ground threats such as RAM and surface-to-air missiles

Four Reapers
for the Netherlands

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Netherlands for MQ-9 Reapers and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $339 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)
An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

The Government of the Netherlands has requested a possible sale of:

  • 4 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft;
  • 4 Mobile Ground Control Stations Block 30 (option Block 50);
  • 6 Honeywell TPE331-10T Turboprop Engines (4 installed and 2 spares);
  • 2 SATCOM Earth Terminal Sub-System;
  • 6 AN/DAS-1 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems (MTS)-B;
  • 4 General Atomics Lynx (exportable) Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving;
  • Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI) Systems, w/Maritime Wide Area Search capability;
  • 2 Ruggedized Aircraft Maintenance Test Stations;
  • 20 ARC-210 RT-1939 Radio Systems;
  • 8 KY-1006 Common Crypto Modules;
  • 8 Ku-band Link-Airborne Communications Systems;
  • 4 KIV-77 Mode 4/5 Identification Friend or Foe;
  • 4 AN/APX-119 Mode 4/5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder (515 Model);
  • 14 Honeywell H-764 Adaptive Configurable Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Guidance Units (EGI) with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) (12 installed and 2 spares).

Also provided are an Initial Spares Package (ISP) and Readiness Spares Package (RSP) to support 3400 Flight Hours for a three year period, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $339 million.

The Netherlands is one of the major political and economic powers in Europe and NATO and an ally of the United States in the pursuit of peace and stability. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist the Netherlands to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This potential sale will enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability of the Dutch military in support of national, NATO, UN-mandated, and other coalition operations. Commonality of ISR capabilities will greatly increase interoperability between U.S. and Dutch military and peacekeeping forces.

The Netherlands requests this capability to provide for the defense of its deployed troops, regional security, and interoperability with the U.S. The proposed sale will improve the Netherland’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing improved Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance coverage that promotes increased battlefield situational awareness, anticipates enemy intent, augments combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support. The Netherlands will have no difficulty absorbing this additional capability into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractor will be General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. in San Diego, California. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale may require U.S. contractor representatives to make multiple trips to the Netherlands and potentially to deployed locations to provide initial launch, recovery, and maintenance support. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

A maintenance Airman inspects an MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan Oct. 1. Capable of striking enemy targets with on-board weapons, the Reaper has conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. (Courtesy photo)
A maintenance Airman inspects an MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan Oct. 1. Capable of striking enemy targets with on-board weapons, the Reaper has conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. (Courtesy photo)

 

MQ-9 Reaper

Designated as MQ-9 Reaper by its U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force customers, the turboprop-powered, multi-mission Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) was developed with GA-ASI funding and provides significantly greater capabilities than Predator. First flown in 2001, Predator B is a highly sophisticated development built on the experience gained with GA-ASI’s battle-proven Predator UAS and a major evolutionary leap in overall performance and reliability.

Featuring unmatched operational flexibility, the multi-mission Predator B has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS (Knots True AirSpeed)/276 mph/444 km/h, can operate up to 50,000 feet/15,240 m, and has a 3,850 lbs (1,746 kg) payload capacity that includes 3,000 lbs (1,361 kg) of external stores. Twice as fast as Predator, it carries 500% more payload and has nine times the horsepower. Predator B provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance/strike capability for the war fighter.

An extremely reliable aircraft, it is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. Predator B is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.

Predator B is powered by the flight-certified and proven Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, integrated with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC), which significantly improves engine performance and fuel efficiency, particularly at low altitudes.

The Predator B multi-mission aircraft is highly modular and is easily configured with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements. Predator B is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads to include: Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Lynx Multi-mode Radar, multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), laser designators, and various weapons packages.

Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes off on a mission in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is larger and more heavily-armed than the MQ-1 Predator and attacks time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, to destroy or disable those targets. (Courtesy photo)
Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes off on a mission in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is larger and more heavily-armed than the MQ-1 Predator and attacks time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, to destroy or disable those targets. (Courtesy photo)

 

Characteristics

Wing Span:                                      66 feet/20 m

Length:                                              36 feet/11m

Height:                                               12.5 feet/3.8 m

Powerplant:                                    Honeywell TPE 331-10

Thrust:                                                900 shaft horsepower maximum

Weight:                                              4,900 pounds/2,223 kg empty

Max Gross Takeoff Weight:  10,500 lbs/4,763 kg

Fuel Capacity:                                3,900 lbs/1,769 kg

Payload Capacity:

850 lbs internal/386 kg

3,000 lbs external/1,361 kg

Cruise speed:                                  around 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h

Range:                                                1,000 NM/1,150 miles/1,850 km

Ceiling:                                               Up to 50,000 feet/15,240 m

Weapons:

Hellfire missiles

GBU-12 laser-guided bombs

GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition)

GBU-49 laser-JDAM

Payloads:

MTS-B EO/IR (Electro-Optical/Infrared)

Lynx Multi-mode Radar

Multi-mode maritime radar

Automated Identification

System (AIS, Aeronautical Information Service)

SIGINT/ESM (Electronic Support Measures) system

Communications relay

Power:                                               11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block5) (redundant)

An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy photo)
An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy photo)

 

Features:

  • Triple-redundant flight control system
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
  • MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
  • Seven external stations for carriage of payloads
  • 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)