General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has conducted the first-ever launch and control of Air Launched Effects (ALE) from a Gray Eagle ER Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
This successful teaming between GA-ASI’s Gray Eagle ER (GE-ER) and Area-I’s Altius-600 ALEs is a significant innovation milestone that demonstrates capability required for the future battlefield. The ALEs were launched and controlled through the GE-ER and provided real-time full-motion video to simulated ground forces over a Tactical Scalable Mobile (TSM) network.
The launch was part of a month-long demo event conducted by GA-ASI that showcased a suite of long-range sensors, ALEs and Scalable Command and Control (SC2) on its Gray Eagle ER UAS. This was the third in a series of demonstrations for the U.S. Army that were based out of the Yuma Proving Grounds dating back to November 2019.
For the demo, GA-ASI partnered with industry to integrate best-of-breed long-range ISR payloads and ALEs on the GE-ER. The aircraft showed a persistent stand-off survivability with stand-in capabilities with up to 40 hours of endurance that Army Commanders can leverage to orchestrate forces in the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) environment.
Gray Eagle ER
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 and more payload capacity to support future mission tasking with considerable improvements in system reliability and maintainability. GA-ASI continues modernization in both aircraft reliability and mission effectiveness.
The next milestone that GA-ASI will accomplish is flight testing of the 200 HP Enhanced Heavy Fuel Engine and dual 7.5kw brushless generators. GA-ASI will continue the demo series next year to advance the aircraft and its payloads to meet the emerging needs of the U.S. Army.
Area-I’s Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated, Unmanned System or ALTIUS was conceived in 2011 under an Air Force SBIR contract to develop a high-endurance air-frame that would store and launch from the Air Force’s Common Launch Tube (CLT) to conduct Information, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The ALTIUS is an integral part of the Air-Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Tactical Off-Board Sensing (TOBS) program.
Area-I has also developed an ALTIUS variant for the Navy, which was designed to launch from the smaller Sonobuoy Launch Container (SLC). This variant was specifically tailored to conduct Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) missions and carries a sensitive magnetometer which is used to detect submarines for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).