General Atomics to provide Gray Eagle unmanned combat aircraft and communications in $131.6 million deal

Oct. 2, 2020
The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile or GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bomb.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – U.S. Army aviation experts are ordering MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned combat aircraft for reconnaissance and attack, as well as satellite communications air data terminals, maintenance, repair, and support services under terms of a $131.6 million order announced Wednesday.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., are asking General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Poway, Calif., for the Gray Eagle attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), communications terminals, and support.

The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV that is an upgraded MQ-1 Predator for extended-range, multi-purpose unmanned operations. The aircraft can be fitted with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile or GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bomb for attack missions.

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Compared with its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator, the Gray Eagle has an increased wingspan, and a Thielert Centurion 1.7 heavy-fuel engine that can burn jet and diesel fuel. The UAV can fly for as long as 36 hours at altitudes to 25,000 feet. It has an operating range of 200 nautical miles.

The Gray Eagle UAV has a synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indicator system, and targeting capability from an AN/AAS-52 multi-spectral targeting system under the nose. The aircraft can carry payloads as heavy as 800 pounds.

Army commanders deploy the Gray Eagle UAV in platoons, each with four aircraft, support equipment, and payloads like electro-optical and infrared/laser range finder, laser designator, communications relay, and as many as four hellfire missiles.

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The common sensor payload and synthetic aperture radar ground moving target indicator are one per aircraft. Ground equipment per platoon includes two universal ground control stations; three universal ground data terminals; one satellite communication ground data terminal; and one mobile ground control station per company.

Gray Eagle platoons also have an automated takeoff and landing system two tactical automatic landing systems and ground support equipment to include ground-based sense and avoid.

On this order General Atomics will do the work in Poway, Calif., and should be finished by December 2022. For more information contact General Atomics Aeronautical Systems online at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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