The US Army has successfully completed initial operational testing and evaluation (IOT&E) of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the army’s National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin in California.
Operated from the Edwards Air Force Base, the UAS was employed in an operational and realistic way in support of a brigade combat team (BCT) rotation at the NTC.
US Army Operational Test Command, Army Test and Evaluation Command military test plans analyst John Moltenberry said the IOT&E primarily aimed to assess how a given platform or technology can address its designated requirements to help inform anticipated full-rate production decisions.
"The idea is to exercise the system against a specified set of requirements such as day and night operations, operational tempo, maintenance man hours and mission load, essentially assessing the types of missions the Gray Eagle would be most likely to perform," Moltenberry said.
"Some of the requirements might be the ability to remain on station for a given number of hours or demonstrate an ability to acquire and engage a target."
UAS project manager Timothy Baxter said the IOT&E confirmed the UAS’s effectiveness, operational suitability, and ability to address survivability and force protection key performance parameters; it noted that the beyond low-rate initial-production report has provided some useful recommendations.
"The recommendations are associated with improving tactics, techniques and procedures, improving doctrine with respect to UAS, and then next-war preparation," Baxter added.
The testing also validated and refined standardised procedures and protocols for the one system remote video terminal (OSRVT), a small, mobile technology displaying real-time full-motion video to troops.
Manufactured by General Atomics, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle is an extended-range multi-purpose (ERMP) Hellfire missile-equipped UAS, designed to conduct long-endurance surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions in the battlefield.
Image: The Gray Eagle UAS during its initial operating test and evaluation at the US Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California. Photo: courtesy of US Army.