The Grey Eagle UAV has gotten improved endurance. (U.S. Army photo)
TAMPA, Fla., May 23 (UPI) -- The Improved Grey Eagle prototype unmanned aerial system by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. has demonstrated its improved endurance.
During a second endurance flight test of the prototype for the U.S. Army, the aircraft flew 36.7 hours, compared to the 30-hour endurance of the unimproved model.
In October last year it flew more than 45 hours in a reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition configuration -- with no external payloads integrated, GA-ASI said.
"Improved Gray Eagle is a significant capability leap forward, providing for longer UAS endurance, enhanced payload carriage, and increased reliability", said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. "We are pleased that this long-endurance flight was executed seamlessly, with all objectives met."
During the latest flight test of the IGE, the aircraft carried an external signals intelligence pod and two Hellfire missiles.
IGE has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 4,200 pounds. Its deep belly design and 500-pound centerline hard point allow for 850 pounds of internal fuel load, with an optional external fuel pod that can hold an additional 450 pounds of fuel, which should enable reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition missions of more than 50 hours.
GA-ASI said IGE is to receive software updates for operation from the U.S. Army's One System Ground Control Station and future Universal Ground Control System.