General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and the US Army have conducted the first production Acceptance Test Procedure (ATP) flights of a Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

GE-ER UAS is claimed to deliver capabilities such as long-endurance UAS surveillance, communications relay and weapons delivery missions in support of troops.

It delivers an advanced UAS capability for the army, adding ‘significantly increased endurance’, considerably enhanced reliability / maintainability, as well as greater payload and weapons capacity.

The ATP was conducted using GA-ASI-developed Scalable Command & Control (SC2) software and installed on an army-owned laptop computer.

According to the company, SC2 controlled a US Army’s GE-ER jet for 3.8 hours and the system ‘successfully completed’ all test points.

GA-ASI strategic development vice-president JR Reid said: “SC2 represents a massive reduction in emplacement, mission launch time and overall footprint size.

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“The SC2 software could be part of the army’s ground modernisation plan replacing the universal ground control station (UGCS) with rugged laptops and tactical servers enabling more mobile operations in a defined modular open systems approach (MOSA) framework.”

As a collection of standalone software applications, SC2 reduces operator workload through automated checklists.

It also optimises steps for pre-flight, taxi, launch and recovery, health and status monitoring, as well as sensor and payload control and maintenance of the GE-ER jet.

The US Army believes that C2’s automation will enable ‘enlisted operators’ to focus on the more operationally complex mission tasks, leaving the more ‘mundane tasks’ to the SC2 software.

Recently, GA-ASI said it is set to demonstrate a SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) aircraft from Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington later this year.