General Atomics to Deliver Improved Gray Eagle UAS to US Army
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has been award a contract by the United States Army for full-rate production and supply of the Improved Gray Eagle (IGE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Details of the contract were not immediately available, but what is known is the defense company will provide a quantity of nineteen IGEs. Deliveries are scheduled to be completed by September of 2018.
The “improved” in Improved Gray Eagle comes from them being the next-generation advanced derivative of the Army’s Block 1 Gray Eagle UAS, which has been used extensively in combat. Due to limited physical differences with the older version, it can still operate side by side with it, avoiding the need for total replacement of the old units. This new unit will have improved capabilities in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and air support. It is equipped with multiple sensors and weapons payloads. "We are very pleased that the Army has awarded us this production contract for IGE, which delivers a high-value solution for accomplishing multiple mission types, all at an affordable cost,” said GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue, as he talked about all the benefits the UAS provides.
"IGE provides better endurance, additional payload capacity, easier maintenance, and extended lifecycle of critical components." The Army requires a UAS to be able to stay airborne for fourteen hours - the IGE can stay airborne for triple that. It reaches a max altitude of 29,000 feet, and has a maximum airspeed of 167 KTAS. Some other key features of the IGE include, but are not limited to:
- Improved reliability
- Common Data Link (CDL) line-of-sight communications/air data relay communications
- Open, modular architecture supports integration of three payloads simultaneously, with capacity for growth Automatic takeoff and landing reduces pilot workload
- HFE offsets the logistical need for special fuels on the battlefield
- C-130 transportable
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