The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS (previously the Warrior and also called Sky Warrior and ERMP (Extended-Range Multi-Purpose)[1] by General Atomics) is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) under development by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), funded by United States Army. It is an upgrade of the MQ-1 Predator.

Development[edit | edit source]

The U.S. Army initiated the Extended-Range Multi-Purpose UAV competition in 2002, with the winning aircraft due to replace the RQ-5 Hunter. Two aircraft were entered, an upgraded version of the RQ-5 Hunter, and the Warrior. In August 2005, the Army announced the Warrior to be the winner and awarded a $214 million contract for system development and demonstration. The Army intends to procure eleven Warrior systems, each of these units has twelve UAVs and five ground control stations. With an expected total program cost of $1 billion, the aircraft became operational in 2009.[2]

The Army sought to have the Warrior designated MQ-12, but the United States Department of Defense allocated the designation MQ-1C instead.[3] The drones are planned to be operated by Task Force ODIN in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. In August 2010, the US Army announced that the MQ-1C had officially been assigned the name Gray Eagle.[4][5]

The Army announced on 3 September 2010 that the integration of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile on the Gray Eagle had been so successful that 4 weaponized Gray Eagles would be deployed to Afghanistan in late 2010.[6]

Design[edit | edit source]

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).[7] This is a Diesel piston engine that burns jet fuel, giving the aircraft better performance at high altitudes. It will be capable of operating for 36 hours at altitudes up to 25,000 feet (7,600 m),[2] with an operating range of Template:Convert/nmi.[8]

The aircraft's nose fairing has been 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.[8]

Reliability Problems[edit | edit source]

Beginning in March 2011, Gray Eagles started showing poor reliability across all major subsystems. During that month, one Gray Eagle crashed in California when a faulty chip blocked a subsystem from sending commands to part of the aircraft's flight control surfaces. Flight testing was delayed, was resumed when the chip was replaced, but left the drone with fewer available flight hours. The average time between failures of the aircraft or components is 25 hours, while the minimum required is 100 hours. The ground control station's time between failures is 27 hours, while the minimum time required is 150 hours. Sensors fail at 134 hours, compared to 250 hours required. In October 2011, a report concluded the Gray Eagle was meeting only four out of seven "key performance parameters," and its reliability continued to fall short of predicted growth. Software fixes have led to 11 unplanned software revisions, but has generally improved reliability.[9]

Operational history[edit | edit source]

The Army's 1st Infantry Division's combat aviation brigade deployed to Iraq with developmental Grey Eagles in June 2010.[10]

The Army will perform the initial Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) of the Gray Eagle in July and August 2012.[11]

On June 2, 2012, the Gray Eagle reached a record 10,000 successful automatic launch and recoveries with the Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLS). The system also landed with a 26 knot crosswind. By July 25, 2012, the Army’s Gray Eagle Block 1 aircraft has accumulated more than 35,000 flight hours since it was first deployed in 2008. There are currently 50 aircraft in service with a greater than 80% system operational availability rate.[12]

On June 25, 2012, the Gray Eagle was deployed in its first full company of 12 aircraft.[13]

Specifications[edit | edit source]

Template:Aircraft specifications

See also[edit | edit source]

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References[edit | edit source]

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named GA spec sheet
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Army awards ‘Warrior’ long-range UAV contract". Army News Service. 2005-08-05. http://www4.army.mil/news/article.php?story=7722. 
  3. "General Atomics RQ/MQ-1 Predator". Designation Systems.
  4. Gourley, Scott (24 August 2010). "AUVSI: It’s Official: 'Gray Eagle'". Shephard Group Limited. http://www.shephard.co.uk/news/7036/. Retrieved 8 September 2010. "That’s ‘Gray Eagle’ as ‘G-R-A-Y," added Col Robert Sova, US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Capabilities Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 'The naming nomenclature, of course, is usually after an Indian chief or Indian tribe and I would suggest that you look up ‘Gray Eagle,’ because there is a good history of that particular Indian chief and his lineage with the army and special operations. So it is not only a ‘cool’ name, it has substance and meaning behind it." 
  5. "US Army ERMP dubbed "Grey Eagle"". Australian Aviation. 30 August 2010. http://australianaviation.com.au/us-army-ermp-dubbed-%E2%80%98grey-eagle%E2%80%99/. 
  6. "'Grey Eagle' Weaponized UAS slated for Afghanistan". US Army. 3 September 2010. http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/09/03/44688-grey-eagle-weaponized-uas-slated-for-afghanistan/index.html. 
  7. "Thielert Centurion 1.7 (Germany), Power plants". Jane's Information Group. http://www.janes.com/articles/Janes-Unmanned-Aerial-Vehicles-and-Targets/Thielert-Centurion-1-7-Germany.html. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "ERMP Extended-Range Multi-Purpose UAV". Defense Update. 2006-11-01. http://www.defense-update.com/products/e/ermpUAV.htm. 
  9. Grey Eagle relibility problems - Wired.com, June 15, 2012
  10. "Army unit flies new unmanned aircraft in Iraq". US Army. 29 November 2010. http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/11/28/48677-army-unit-flies-new-unmanned-aircraft-in-iraq/. 
  11. MCLEARY, Paul (Jul. 3, 2012). "MQ-1C Undergoing Development, Deployment". Defense News. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120703/C4ISR01/307030007/MQ-1C-Undergoing-Development-Deployment. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  12. Gray Eagle UAS Achieves 10,000 Automated Takeoffs and Landings - GA.com, July 25, 2012
  13. First Full Company of Gray Eagle UAS Now Deployed - GA.com, June 25, 2012

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:Q-UAVs Template:General Atomics aircraft Template:Aviation lists

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