SAN DIEGO – 25 July 2012 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, today announced that its Gray Eagle® UAS has reached a record 10,000 successful automatic launch and recoveries with the Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLS). The milestone was achieved on June 2 while it performed a routine surveillance mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Gray Eagle’s ATLS also successfully executed the extremely difficult maneuver of landing in a 26 knot crosswind.
“Gray Eagle’s ATLS is providing the Army with significant cost savings as it reduces operator workload, streamlines operator training, and enhances aircraft reliability,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI.
In less than two years, cumulative flight hours for the Gray Eagle fleet have more than doubled, serving as a testament to the growing demand by the Army war fighter for this highly reliable, durable, and operationally flexible aircraft. Currently flying 2,300 flight hours per month across six deployment and training sites, the Army’s Gray Eagle Block 1 aircraft has accumulated more than 35,000 flight hours since it was first deployed in 2008. Today the fleet has grown to 50 aircraft and maintains a greater than 80% system operational availability rate.
A technologically advanced derivative of the combat-proven Predator® UAS, Gray Eagle is dedicated to direct operational control by Army field commanders. Its expansive mission set includes persistent, broad-area Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); convoy protection, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection, providing aerial imagery to combat patrols, pattern of life analysis, and precision weapons delivery. A key force multiplier, Gray Eagle has an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)-only endurance of 25 hours, an operating altitude of up to 29,000 feet, and a payload capacity of over 1,000 lb.