Congress has approved funding for 12 Gray Eagle 25M unmanned aircraft systems developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for the United States Army National Guard.
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The Army National Guard hopes that the acquisition will enable the force to be multi-domain operations capable, while also integrating with the Division Artillery Brigades, and better support domestic tasks including both defence and humanitarian relief.
According to the company, the UAS can host both kinetic and non-kinetic payloads and is equipped with electro-optical/infrared sensors — supporting mission planning, communications, and coordination.
The UAS provides the Army National Guard Divisions with their first ISR capability, enabling fires, manoeuvre, network, and intelligence operations.
“The GE-25M UAS is a very versatile aircraft,” GA-ASI vice-president of DoD Strategic Development Patrick Shortsleeve explained.
“Gray Eagle is a valuable tool that gives the ARNG capabilities that match the organisational and doctrinal Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) requirements of active Army divisions with up to 40 hours of continuous flight.”
To date, the UAS has operated millions for millions of hours, even working alongside manned rotary-wing capabilities.
Earlier in the month, the company announced that it had begun testing artificial intelligence pilots in live, tactical, and air combat manoeuvres on MQ-20 Avenger unmanned aircraft.
In April, the company announced that it had conducted collaborative manoeuvres between human and AI pilots using low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication on a collaborative combat aircraft, during testing on 6 April.
The mission beyond line of sight (BLOS) datalink is used to rapidly retrain and redeploy AI pilots within minutes while the aircraft is airborne.
Two RASOR multi-functional processors from L3Harris Technologies were used to house a transceiver card and control BLOS active electronically scanned array.
“The flight demonstrated GA-ASI’s unmatched ability to fly autonomy on real, tactically relevant, unmanned combat aerial vehicles,” said GA-ASI advanced programs senior director Michael Atwood.
“It displayed effective BLOS command and control through the collaboration between three defence primes.
“This showcases our rapidly maturing CCA mission system suite and moves us one step closer to providing this revolutionary capability to the warfighter.”
Operator commands were captured with hands on throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls and sent via LEO SATCOM to AI pilots running reinforcement learning algorithms.
AI pilots autonomously tracked and manoeuvred dynamically via HOTAS commands, while operators were provided updates from AI pilots on a cockpit heads-up display and could dynamically re-task via HOTAS as the mission evolved.