US Army concludes new equipment training for MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range UAS

The U.S. Army has completed its New Equipment Training (NET) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range. The training covered new maintenance procedures, manuals and ground support equipment associated with the MQ-1C ER, which is a new Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

US Army concludes new equipment training for MQ 1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range UAS
MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (Picture source: General Atomics)

The training not only prepared the current Army Company – 160th Foxtrot – to operate MQ-1C ER; it also prepared Echo Company to become the Army’s second Company to be trained to operate the Gray Eagle Extended Range. “Adding a second Company to operate the MQ-1C ER is a testament to the confidence the Army has in the performance of this UAS,” said David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI. “The MQ-1C ER provides significant enhancements in capability over the MQ-1C, delivering increased reliability, range and capacity for our Army customer over the previous version.”

Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) is a next-generation advanced derivative of the battle-proven Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). GE-ER delivers long-endurance UAS surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions in support of the warfighter. The aircraft delivers an advanced UAS capability for the Army, adding significantly increased endurance, considerably improved reliability/maintainability, and much greater payload and weapons capacity. First flown in July 2013, GE-ER builds upon the successes of its Gray Eagle predecessor, delivering upgraded, game-changing capabilities for saving the lives of Army soldiers abroad by providing extended surveillance coverage, along with the ability to self-transit to distant locations.

GE-ER is engineered with a Max Gross Takeoff Weight (MGTOW) of 4,200 pounds, utilizing a high-performance 180HP diesel engine compared with the Gray Eagle's GTOW of 3,600 pounds with a 160HP diesel engine. The incorporation of GE-ER's deep belly design and 500-pound centerline hardpoint allows for 900 pounds of internal fuel load, with the capability of an external fuel pod that can accommodate an additional 450 pounds (Gray Eagle's fuel load is 600 pounds). Use of this extra fuel supports persistent Army Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) missions. GE-ER endurance has been demonstrated in all Army operational configurations and flew nearly two days straight during testing at GA-ASI's Flight Operations Facility in El Mirage, California.

GE-ER's internal payload capacity, combined with its increased engine horsepower, provides growth capability for an improved airworthiness design, with the potential of incorporating lightning protection, damage tolerance, and Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) features.

GE-ER features an automatic takeoff and landing system (ATLS) that allows the aircraft to be launched and recovered without any operator interaction. Its ATLS is based upon GA-ASI's Gray Eagle ATLS which has successfully conducted tens of thousands of takeoffs and landings.