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.
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.
|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|