This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and electro-optic surveillance systems, recently announced the successfulו flight test of its MQ-1C Gray Eagle – the new Extended Range (ER) model.

David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI: “The flight of our MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER UAS is a significant milestone in the continued evolution of the MQ-1C program with our US Army customer. This marks the next step in delivering the aircraft’s increased capabilities”.

The MQ-1C ER is expected to complete flight testing in June 2017, at which point it will begin a series of Army test events culminating in the program’s second Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation in late 2017. The first four aircraft are expected to be delivered in Q2 and Q3 2017, with an additional 15 over the course of 2018.

The devices’ straight belly design allows for more than 910 pounds of internal fuel and a centerline hard point that can accommodate an optional fuel pod with an additional 450 pounds. With endurance at more than 40 hours, the aircraft will exceed the Army’s requirement for 14 hours on station at 1,000 kilometers for all mission types.

As reported on the company’s website, MQ-1C ER features an upgraded Heavy Fuel Engine-180 (HFE-180) which provides increased horsepower and reliability. HFE-180 includes propulsion reliability enhancements, an improved cooling system, and high-performance induction system. The new engine began flight tests on Block 1 Gray Eagle in February 2016.

MQ-1C ER’s enhanced capabilities will expand the tactical range for Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance (ISR), electronic warfare, and attack missions for the U.S. Army and other prospective customers.