General Atomics finishes key cockpit review for drone program

The critical design review for the Advanced Cockpit Block 50 Ground Control Station is expected to enhance combat effectiveness and reduce pilot workload.
By Stephen Carlson  |  June 20, 2017 at 4:34 PM
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June 20 (UPI) -- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has finished its critical design review for the Advanced Cockpit Block 50 Ground Control Station for unmanned aerial vehicles.

The announcement marks the completion of one of the key phases of testing before the system can be fielded to the U.S. Air Force, the company said.

"Our Block 50 team is proud of the development effort that addressed more than 700 customer requirements covering all areas of GCS performance," David Alexander, president of Aircraft Systems at GA-AS, said in a press release. "The Block 50 GCS CDR marks the successful completion of requirements established by our Air Force customer."

The Block 50 features input from Air Force pilots with the cockpit's Human-Machine Interface. The system is designed to minimize pilot workload.

It features standard stick-and-throttle controls as in manned airplanes, and has all sensor, payload, weapons, and other systems on a single display. Synthetic video with 3D graphics and moving maps can be displayed on a separate touch screen.

Under the current development contract, three GCS units have been produced for testing and evaluation. Four more featuring mobile shelter and permanent facility configurations are slated to be delivered.

Flight testing with the MQ-9 Reaper UAV is expected to begin next year once integration and ground testing is completed.

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