Testing Gray Eagle Extended Range UAS for Multi-Domain Operations
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced the completion of a month-long demo event that showcased its Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) UAS equipped with a suite of long-range sensors, Air Launched Effects (ALE) and Scalable Command and Control (SC2).
GA-ASI collaborated with industry to equip the UAS with best-of-breed long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads and ALEs. During the demo, the UAS showed a persistent stand-off survivability with stand-in capabilities with up to 40 hours of endurance that Army Commanders can use to orchestrate forces in the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) environment.
“We set out on a mission to demonstrate survivability and capability to the U.S. Army through strong industry partnerships in a cost conscious and affordable way,” explains David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI.
“The goal was to take the Army’s concepts and put the power of industry innovation to work to make them a reality. We are in the business of solving problems and ensuring the U.S. Army Soldier has overmatch on the battlefield.”
This latest demo 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 Nov. 2019. Building off of the previous demos, the third saw the GE-ER identify emitters with Communications Intelligence (COMINT) payload and integrated antenna array while in flight at 25,000 feet.
This configuration provided single aircraft geo-location and cross-cueing to the onboard Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to produce precision coordinates sufficient for targeting within minutes. To perform the task, L3Harris’ Rio Nino lightweight COMINT system, which is capable of detecting emitters out to 250 kilometers, was combined with GA-ASI’s Lynx Multi-mode Radar with SAR.
Additionally, the GE-ER used a Sierra Nevada Small SWAP Auto-ELINT (SSAE) system to collect Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). The ELINT detections were cross-cued to the Lynx SAR for rapid processing of target identification and targeting coordinates.
GA-ASI also conducted the first-ever launch and control of ALEs from the GE-ER. Launched and controlled through the GE-ER, the ALEs provided real-time full-motion video to simulated ground forces over a Tactical Scalable Mobile (TSM) network. According to GA-ASI, this successful teaming between the GE-ER and Area-I’s Altius-600 ALEs “is a significant innovation milestone” that demonstrates capability required for the future battlefield.
The GE-ER also acted as a Tactical Scalable Mobile Ad-hoc Networking node, as it relayed voice and data to displaced users during the demonstration. All flight activities—including preflight, taxi, mission profiles and landing—were controlled from a GA-ASI laptop-based SC2 system, which reduced emplacement and mission launch timelines by 75 percent from the currently-fielded Ground Control Station.
Published by AUVSI News on June 30, 2020.