General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), in partnership with the US Army, has successfully concluded a follow-on operational test and evaluation (FOT&E) for its MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (ER) aircraft.

During the entire testing period, which commenced in early June this year, the MQ-1C ER unmanned aircraft system (UAS) travelled for a total of 644 flight hours.

With the successful completion of the test, the Gray Eagle aircraft is now ready for its initial fielding with the US Army Intelligence & Security Command (INSCOM) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM), followed by units from Forces Command (FORSCOM).

GA-ASI Aircraft Systems president David R. Alexander said: “The FOT&E highlighted some of the key benefits that the MQ-1C ER will deliver to our US Army customer, including significantly increased endurance, more payload capacity to support future mission tasking, and considerable improvements in system reliability and maintainability.”

“The Gray Eagle ER clearly demonstrated its ability to support the future force.”

The full capability range of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER was tested by US Army soldiers to support the service’s vision for long-range and persistent reconnaissance.

Alexander added: “The Gray Eagle ER clearly demonstrated its ability to support the future force. We added multiple payloads that enable it to perform a wide range of missions to further support the warfighter in contested operations.”

The operational test and assessment was carried out at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, US.

As a next-generation advanced variant of the Gray Eagle UAS, the Gray Eagle ER features an automatic take-off and landing system (ATLS) that enables the system to be launched and recovered without any operator interaction.

The aircraft has been designed to offer long-endurance UAS surveillance, communications relay and weapons delivery missions in support of the warfighter.