Advanced Datalinks for Gray Eagle-ER Unmanned Aircraft

The enhancements will allow the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems drone to conduct uninterrupted flight operations over multiple satellite constellations to support continuous operations in contested environments By DA Reporter / 09 Feb 2022
MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) successfully tested advanced datalink and avionics capabilities as part of a U.S. Army-funded development effort to upgrade the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).

During the tests, the joint U.S. Army and GA-ASI ground demonstration showed the ability of GE-ER to maintain link and support high bandwidth data rates with Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) Ku/Ka band satellites and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) Ka band satellites with common hardware and software. 

This allows the modernized GE-ER to conduct uninterrupted flight operations over multiple satellite constellations to support continuous operations in contested environments. 

“Extensive use of Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) principles, along with Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), made this capability possible,” said GA-ASI Vice President of Army Programs, Don Cattell. “Together with our U.S. Army teammates, we’re making important progress in preparing GE-ER for successful operations in contested environments. Completion of the GE-ER modernization will enable mission success for the Army’s highest priority capabilities.”

Advanced waveform capabilities were also tested during this event. Satellite constellation diversity combined with multiple line-of-sight options for interfacing with the modernized GE-ER provides resilient and robust communications with supported maneuver units and manned aviation assets. 

Flight testing of the modernized GE-ER system is scheduled for fourth quarter 2022. 

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