General Atomics Trials Gray Eagle Drone Flight Computer

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has tested its next-generation flight computer for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) drone at El Mirage Flight Test Center in California.

During the trials, the company demonstrated its new Flight Control Module, the Eagle Flight Computer Assembly, which offers increased memory, processing, and a high-speed ethernet interface.

The demonstration is part of the US Army-funded efforts to modernize the MQ-1C and ensure critical risk reduction for the drone’s avionics, datalinks, and communication enhancements.

“Together with our US Army teammates, we’re making important progress in preparing GE-ER for successful Joint All Domain Operations in contested environments,” General Atomics Army Programs Vice President Don Cattell said.

“Completion of the GE-ER modernization enables mission readiness, reliability, versatility and success for the Army’s highest priority Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting and Acquisition missions at all echelons of command.”

New Engine and Generator

Following the latest trials, MQ-1C’s Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) 2.0 and Brushless Generator will undergo flight tests in early 2023.

The Heavy Fuel Engine uses either jet or diesel fuel for increased horsepower and fuel efficiency. General Atomics developed it to meet the US Army’s “single fuel in the battlefield” objective.

Meanwhile, the Brushless Generator will provide 14 kilowatts of power, more than 50 percent of MQ-1C’s existing generator, and 10 kilowatts for sensors and payloads.

MQ-1C Gray Eagle

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range is a drone utilized for communications relay, endurance surveillance, and weapons delivery operations to support warfighters.

It has a wingspan of 58 feet (17 meters), an overall length of 28 feet (9 meters), and a takeoff weight of 4,200 pounds (1,905 kilograms).

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The aircraft has a fuel capacity of 900 pounds (408 kilograms) and a payload capacity of up to 500 pounds (227 kilograms).

It can achieve 29,000 feet (8.8 kilometres) of altitude and 167 knots (192 miles/309 kilometers per hour) of speed.

The MQ-1C carries four Hellfire air-to-surface anti-armor missiles as its major weapon.