General Atomics gets Army go-ahead for UAV universal ground control station integration

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 11 May 2011. Plans by the U.S. military to consolidate its numbers of ground control stations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may be moving forward with the announcement Tuesday of a contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Poway, Calif., to integrate a Universal Ground Control Station. The U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $9 million contract Friday for the procurement of the Universal Ground Control Station integration.

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 11 May 2011. Plans by the U.S. military to consolidate its numbers of ground control stations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may be moving forward with the announcement Tuesday of a contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Poway, Calif., to integrate a Universal Ground Control Station.

The U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $9 million contract Friday to work together with AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., which is the developer of the Army's Universal Ground Control Station, or UGCS. The contract calls for General Atomics to procure hardware, help AAI with development funding, and complete integration of the UGCS with the General Atomics MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAV, which is an extended-range version of the General Atomics Predator UAV.

General Atomics designs a variety of UAVs, including the I-GNAT, I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior Alpha, Predator, Sky Warrior, and Reaper. AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., builds a universal ground control station for Army UAVs.

Officials of the Army and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for about two years now have discussed plans to develop a common UAV ground control station to fly a wide variety of unmanned aircraft. Traditionally UAV control stations have been specific to UAV vendors and to specific versions of UAVs. Each military services has used a different kind of UAV control station and software to control its unmanned aircraft.

General Atomics designs several kinds of control stations for its UAVs -- including models able to control many UAVs at once -- but thus far has not mass-produced a UAV ground control station able to control many different models of UAVs, including those made by different companies. Historically General Atomics as been the U.S. Air Force's vendor of choice for UAV ground control stations. AAI is leading U.S. efforts to create a universal UAV ground control station.

DOD and Army officials for the past two years have been discussing developing one UAV piloting station to fly different kinds of UAVs. The idea is to develop software plug-ins for each different kind of existing UAV, and for those in development. Military leaders want this universal ground control station to have an open-systems hardware and software architecture.

On this latest contract, General Atomics will do the work in Poway, Calif., and should be finished by the end of June. For more information contact General Atomics Aeronautical Systems online at www.ga-asi.com, or the Army's Redstone Arsenal at www.garrison.redstone.army.mil.

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