US military contractors have tested a survivable air-launched effect vehicle for the first time during a flight demonstration based in Utah.
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The GA-ASI Eaglet was tested by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems after being launched from a US Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range unmanned aircraft system at the Dugway Proving Grounds on 8 December last year.
“Air-launched effect” vehicles, such as the Eaglet, are considered as drones or payloads released in mid-air by manned or unmanned aircraft. They can carry weapon payloads and loiter over targets before being recovered or expended.
The Eaglet can be carried for thousands of kilometres before release and work in concert with other long-range payloads carried by Gray Eagle UAS, helicopters or other platforms.
General Atomics president David R Alexander said the Eaglet is capable of carrying a diverse range of payloads in support of multiple army missions.
“The first flight of the Eaglet was an important milestone for the GA-ASI/US Army team,” he said.
“Eaglet is intended to be a low-cost, survivable UAS with the versatility to be launched from a Gray Eagle, rotary-wing aircraft, or ground vehicles.
“It enables extended reach of sensors and increased lethality while providing survivability for manned aircraft.”
The Eaglet flight was jointly funded by General Atomics and the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory and Aviation and Missile Center.