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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) demonstrated enhanced situational awareness and targeting capability for ground forces during a company-funded technology demonstration at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, the company said in a press release. The demonstration, which took place on 23 April 2021, focused on enabling a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) to control the Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor on a GRAY EAGLE Extended Range (GE-ER) UAV and rapidly call for direct and indirect fire on an array of targets.

The JTAC was able to see GE-ER video, aircraft location, and sensor field of regard utilising an Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) and a TrellisWare TW-950 TSM Shadow® Radio, GA-ASI stated. Usingthe GE-ER’s open-architecture, the JTAC was able to send digital ‘Call for Fires’ to request artillery support, and a digital 9-line for Close Air Support with the push of a few buttons. The GE-ER, configured for Multi-Domain Operations, autonomously re-routed its flight path to provide the sensor data that the JTAC requested without commands from the GE-ER operator.  This demonstration is another step in a series that began in November 2019.

The use of this newly developed technology marks a significant improvement in situational awareness compared to the use of voice communications. The technology improved efficiency, decreased latency and reduced risk of collateral damage. In addition, the JTAC’s ability to orient GE-ER sensors on target from an ATAK tablet reduces man-in-the-loop errors and increases targeting speed. These advances are critical to current and future armed conflicts that reduce the risk to soldiers on the battlefield.

Jack Richardson