General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is working with the US Army to deliver upgrades to the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) drone.

The enhancements will improve the performance and survivability of the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in contested environments.

The US Army has awarded contracts to GA-ASI to modernise the aircraft’s datalinks, avionics and software.

GA-ASI president David Alexander said: “The army is investing in the Gray Eagle system because they get a tremendous performance increase as a return on their investment.

“GE-ER provides the US Army with a UAS that adjusts to the changing threat environment and mission needs with unmatched endurance.”

The upgrade will deliver an open architecture design to support the integration of government-owned software and long-range sensors.

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It will also provide greater autonomy to support ‘Scalable Control Interface’, the company said.

The improvements are intended to support the army’s push for multi-domain operations.

GA-ASI recently identified companies through an open competition for the datalink competition.

The companies were required to submit proposed for a modular design that can support government-owned interfaces and growth for future MDO mission needs.

Other requirements specified by GA-ASI include enhanced reliability and reduction in size, weight, and power.

Winners include Hughes Network Systems, Airbus, L3Harris Technologies, and Ramona Research.

GA-ASI stated that the upgraded datalink will deliver increased capability and cost savings.

In August, the MQ-1C GE-ER UAS launched a Dynetics GBU-69B Small Glide Munition (SGM) during a flight demonstration at a military test range in California, US.

The altitude provided by the UAS enables the weapon to attain an extended range.