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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that its family of GRAY EAGLE Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) surpassed one million flight hours on 16 March 2021 during US Army flight operations.

This historic milestone is the latest accomplishment on a remarkable journey that started in March 2004 with the first flight of an early variant of the GRAY EAGLE UAS family called Army IGNAT. Since that first flight, GA-ASI and the US Army have fielded over 250 GRAT EAGLE type aircraft, including the new GRAY EAGLE Extended Range (GE-ER) aircraft. Over 80 per cent of the one million flight hours were flown in support of deployed operations with a better than 90 per cent Mission Capable Rate.

The GE-ER UAS is a 40-hour endurance aircraft with increased payload capacity, reliability and maintainability over the legacy MQ-1C GRAY EAGLE first fielded in 2009. On the dawn of the next million flight hours, GE-ER is being further enhanced under the US Army’s modernisation programme to incorporate leading-edge technology for standoff survivability, while expanding the payload capabilities to include Air Launched Effects (ALEs) and long-range sensors for stand-in effects. This MDO-ready UAS will be powered by a new 200-hp Enhanced Heavy Fuel Engine and dual 7.5kw brushless generators to enable the growing capabilities needed by commanders in the future MDO environment.

Jack Richardson