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AUSA 2022: General Atomics unveils new Gray Eagle variant

MQ-1C Gray Eagle. (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) unveiled a new variant of its venerable Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system (UAS) at the annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) 2022 conference held in Washington, DC, from 10 to 12 October.

The new variant, dubbed the Gray Eagle 25M (GE-25M), was specifically designed to be highly upgradable and adaptable to meet the growing slate of current and future threats, company officials said in a 10 October statement. The unmanned aircraft's increased adaptability comes from the integration of a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA)-driven design for the new system, from the airframe all the way down to the associated ground stations, the statement said.

As a result, programme officials say the GE-25M is the first UAS from the Gray Eagle family of systems to be specifically designed to support Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) for the US Army. The mission adaptability of the new hardware and software systems incorporated into the GE-25M “will reduce the sensor-to-shooter timelines, while simultaneously reducing the datalink bandwidth requirements in a contested environment, thus increasing range and resiliency”, said GA-ASI vice-president of army programmes Don Cattell.

Company officials have begun implementing system upgrades into two army extended-range Gray Eagle variants, which will eventually become the first two GE-25M variants produced for flight qualification and pre-acceptance testing, according to the statement.

The 25M variants will feature new, open-architecture-driven aircraft and ground systems, as well as advanced datalinks and an upgraded propulsion system, company officials said. The platforms will also come equipped with a customisable “next-generation” synthetic aperture radar (SAR), featuring long-range sense and navigation capability. The SAR and associated systems will also include “a menu of advanced sensors and payloads mission-tailorable options”, the statement said.

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