The US Army has taken delivery of two electronic attack payloads from Raytheon for use on its General Atomics-built MQ-1C Gray Eagle medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
Ordered by the US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)-Crane in 2012, the payloads are scheduled to support the army's networked electronic warfare, remotely-operated (NERO) system.
A derivative of the army's Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CEASAR) programme, NERO is currently used on the UAS as an airborne electronic attack system for jamming enemy communications systems.
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems business Advanced Communications and Countermeasures director Glen Bassett said NERO is designed to offer critical jamming capabilities to soldiers in counterinsurgency environments.
"We leveraged our combat-proven success from the manned CEASAR programme to deliver this key tactical electronic attack capability onto an unmanned application," Bassett added.
NERO uses the same pod system and advanced capability to Gray Eagle, and can conduct missions that cost two to three-times less, with reduced operating costs and risks to the operator compared to the existing C-12 Huron aircraft-based CEASAR system.
Fully adaptable to counter next generation enemy threats, both CEASAR and NERO enable the army to control the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, by delivering beyond line of sight jamming capabilities for ground troop missions.
An upgrade of the combat-proven MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle is an extended-range multipurpose (ERMP) Hellfire missile-equipped UAS, designed to conduct long-endurance surveillance, communications relay, signals intelligence (SIGINT) and weapons delivery operations in the battlefield.
The army has received 61 Gray Eagle aircraft to date, while an additional 44 currently remain under contract with General Atomics.
Image: US Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS lands at Camp Taji in Iraq. Photo courtesy of Spc. Roland Hale.