General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) conducted the first flight of its Predator XP remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) on June 27 at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground range complex in Arizona. The Predator XP is an unarmed export version of the iconic RPA.
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Airbus Defence & Space (D&S), Alenia and Dassault Aviation have proposed a Project Definition (PD) study for a future European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV to the governments of France, Germany and Italy. At the same time, however, Airbus D&S may be working with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to develop what it describes as “bridging solution” for the German armed forces, using the Heron TP. Meanwhile, General Atomics–Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is quietly confident that Germany may join the European “Reaper Club” that already comprises France, Italy and the UK as members.
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) abandoned a radical plan for a commercial company to manage the UK’s defense procurement.
An MQ-1 Predator UAV supported firefighters in their efforts to control the huge California Rim Fire in August-September, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI). The company noted that the UAV’s more-than-24-hour endurance offered a “value-added capability” over helicopters, which ground commanders had relied on previously but are required to refuel every two hours.
General Atomics has demonstrated electronic attack capability on an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft fitted with a Northrop Grumman jamming pod. A test flight took place during a U.S. Marine Corps weapons and tactics instructor (WTI) course in April, the results of which have only now been made public.
The Pentagon approved full-rate production of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle multi-role unmanned aircraft on July 26. That same day, manufacturer General Atomics reported the first flight of an improved version of the aircraft that it will demonstrate to the U.S. Army later this year.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced new features on the sensors available for the Predator/Reaper series. The company’s Lynx Block 20A multimode radar now has a “VideoSAR” software system and the ability to auto cross-cue to an EO/IR sensor.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced a partnership with Canadian software house OMX, in connection with that country’s joint unmanned surveillance and target acquisition system (Justas) requirement. GA-ASI is already teamed with simulation specialist CAE to offer the Predator B and/or Predator C Avenger to Canada.
Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Okla., the state’s largest single-site employer with some 20,000 civilian employees, is preparing for a lead role in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The southern U.S. state of Mississippi is continuing to grow as an aerospace center, having recently announced major plant expansions by General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems group and Rolls-Royce. It is home to companies that produce helicopters, airborne early warning radar systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), parachutes, electromagnetic launch systems for aircraft carriers and composite jet engine components.
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