General Atomics awarded U.S. Army contract for MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV
General Atomics Aeronautical System was awarded a $21,742,996 modification to contract W58RGZ-18-C-0037 for MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range UAV unique initial spares and ground support equipment.
General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle (Picture source: General Atomics/U.S. Army)
Work will be performed in Poway, California, with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2021. Fiscal 2017 aircraft procurement, Army funds in the amount of $21,742,996 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.
The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle (previously called "Warrior", also called Sky Warrior and ERMP or Extended-Range Multi-Purpose) is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS). It was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for the United States Army as an upgrade of the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator.
A Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UAV, the Gray Eagle has an increased wingspan and is powered by a Thielert Centurion 1.7 Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE). This is a Diesel piston engine that burns jet fuel, giving the aircraft better performance at high altitudes. It can operate for 36 hours at altitudes up to 25,000 feet (7,600 m), with an operating range of 200 nautical miles (400 km). The aircraft's nose fairing was enlarged to house a synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) system, and targeting is also provided with an AN/AAS-52 Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS) under the nose. The aircraft can carry a payload of 800 pounds (360 kg) and may be armed with weapons such as AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bombs. Its sensors can fuse infrared imagery and use the SAR to scan and detect changes in terrain like tire tracks, footprints, and buried improvised explosive devices when performing a second scan.
In May 2013, Raytheon delivered two electronic attack payloads as part of the Army's Networked Electronic Warfare, Remotely Operated (NERO) system, for jamming enemy communications on behalf of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Derived from the Communications Electronic Attack Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CEASAR) system on the C-12 Huron, mounting NERO on the unmanned Gray Eagle gives reduced risk, reduced operating costs, and two to three times the endurance of electronic attack missions. Test flights showed that the Gray Eagle could operate with the jammer payload without being subject to adverse effects.
The Improved Gray Eagle has a maximum gross takeoff weight 4,200 lb (1,900 kg) with its 205 hp engine, compared to the Gray Eagle's 3,600 lb (1,600 kg) MGTOW and 160 hp engine. The Gray Eagle can carry 575 lb (261 kg) of fuel, while the IGE can carry 850 lb (390 kg) of fuel internally with its deep belly design and 500 lb (230 kg) centerline hardpoint. External fuel tanks can add 450 lb (200 kg) of extra fuel, allowing for a 50-hour endurance. The IGE also increases internal payload capacity from 400 lb (180 kg) to 540 lb (240 kg). Empty weight is 1,318 kg (2,906 lb), endurance without the external tank is 45 hours, and the engine can sustain an output of 180 hp continuously. General Atomics has added new winglets that can increase endurance a further one percent and allow the addition of a new vertical antenna. A special operations configuration can carry two Hellfire missiles and a SIGINT payload for 35 hours, as opposed to 14–15 hours for the Block 1 Grey Eagle.