General Atomics Aeronautical Systems flies enhanced Gray Eagle drone

July 29, 2013 at 3:38 PM

SAN DIEGO, July 29 (UPI) -- An enhanced version of the U.S. Army's Gray Eagle drone has been flown for the first time by its manufacturer, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

The company said the improved Gray Eagle, with greater endurance and payload capability, took to the air Friday at the company's El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, Calif.

"Improved Gray Eagle will provide a game-changing capability, adding more endurance, more payload carriage, with increased reliability for our Army customer," said Frank W. Pace, president of GA-ASI's Aircraft Systems Group. "The first flight of this aircraft ushers in a new era in unmanned aviation, building upon the successes of its predecessor and providing unmatched, life-saving support for our troops abroad."

The new drone, an enhancement over the Block 1 Gray Eagle configuration, features 23 additional hours for reconnaissance missions. An upgraded centerline hard-point supports integration of a 500-pound optional external fuel tank or 360-degree sensor payload -- more than twice the capability of the current model.

Additional information on testing and evaluation before the unmanned aircraft becomes operational was not given.

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