General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has conducted tests of advanced datalink and avionics enhancements for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) uncrewed aircraft system (UAS).

The move is part of a US Army-funded programme that seeks to upgrade the extended range UAS.

During the tests, the GE-ER demonstrated its capability to maintain connection, and support high bandwidth data rates, with geostationary earth orbit (GEO) Ku/Ka band satellites, and medium earth orbit (MEO) Ka band satellites, using common hardware and software.

This capability will enable the UAS to conduct uninterrupted flight operations over multiple satellite constellations, ensuring uninterrupted operations in contested environments.

According to GA-ASI Army Programs vice-president Don Cattell, the extensive use of modular open systems approach (MOSA) principles, as well as model based systems engineering (MBSE), helped in achieving the new capability.

Cattell added: “Together with our US Army teammates, we’re making important progress in preparing GE-ER for successful operations in contested environments.

“Completion of the GE-ER modernisation will enable mission success for the Army’s highest priority capabilities.”

The company also tested advanced waveform capabilities during the demonstration. It additionally said that the flight testing of the modernised GE-ER system is scheduled to be conducted in the fourth quarter of this year.

An affiliate of General Atomics, GA-ASI focuses on manufacturing remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and related systems. The company’s product portfolio includes the Predator RPA series, and the Lynx multi-mode radar, among others.

Last year, GA-ASI announced that it was developing a modular open systems approach (MOSA) for the GE-ER UAS.