General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has outlined key progress in the development of the Team Reaper Australia (TRA) industrial consortium to deliver Australia’s fleet of remotely piloted aerial systems (RPAS) as part of AIR 7003.
While the specific support requirements are still in definition between the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), the Royal Australian Air Force and General Atomics, Team Reaper Australia is currently geared towards the following services and capabilities:
- Cobham Aviation Services Australia – lead partner – Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), logistics;
- CAE Australia – RPA training devices, training services, support material and courseware;
- Airspeed – Sovereign payload pods and in-country composite repairs;
- Flight Data Systems – Aviation services and products, including environmental testing of line-replaceable units, flight data acquisition, monitoring and analysis;
- Raytheon Australia – Electro-optical/infrared image systems, and integration of payloads and weapons;
- Collins Aerospace – Fast attack (FasTAK) network joint fires on Rosetta Data Link Processor Gateway for Digital Joint Fires;
- Quickstep Technologies – Composite component manufacturing;
- Sentient Vision Systems – Autonomous detection systems, including all environmental ViDAR wide area motion imagery;
- TAE Aerospace – Honeywell TPE331 engine MRO and other powerplant-related component manufacturing; and
- Ultra Electronics Australia – Electronic warfare (EW) payloads.
Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI, welcomed the announcement and continued progress, saying, "We’ve brought together a world-class group of companies that make up Team Reaper Australia, and the team continues to grow. Following the Australian government’s selection of GA-ASI to provide the armed RPAS, Team Reaper Australia activity has increased significantly and all team members committed to supporting ADF requirements."
With the selection of GA-ASI to supply the ADF RPAS, Australia joins other top-tier military forces in choosing a MQ-9 variant because of its proven, multi-role combat performance and networking/interoperability effects.
Known as the warfighters’ choice, the MQ-9 is part of GA-ASI’s Predator series of RPAS, which is an armed medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) RPAS, and hails from a family of RPA systems that recently surpassed 5 million flight hours.
The variants available for Australia to choose from include:
- Predator B/Reaper: An evolution of the original General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, the enlarged MQ-9 has a number of operation improvements over the older system. According to the US Air Force, MQ-9 is capable of carrying 15 times the payload of the original MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets with 500-pound (226-kilogram) bombs and Hellfire missiles.
- Gray Eagle: Another evolution of the combat-proven Predator, the Gray Eagle offers a reliable, affordable, low-risk and compelling next-generation tactical UAS solution to meet challenging service requirements for persistent reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) and attack operations. Gray Eagle has an endurance of 25 hours, speeds up to 167 knots, can operate up to 29,000 feet, and carries 488 kilograms of internal and external payload. The aircraft can carry multiple payloads aloft, including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) with laser designation, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), communications relay and four Hellfire missiles.
- Gray Eagle - Extended Ranger (ER): An advanced variant of the Gray Eagle, the ER design delivers long-endurance UAS surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions in support of the warfighter. The ER variant is designed to carry an additional 204 kilograms of fuel over the standard Gray Eagle variant, allowing for a maximum endurance of 42 hours. Use of this extra fuel supports persistent RSTA missions.
- Predator C/Avenger: The most advanced variant of the Predator/Reaper family of armed UAS, the Avenger provides a number of capability improvements over the preceding variants, including a high-speed jet engine designed by Pratt & Whitney, while the aircraft's significant wing hardpoint payload mounting capacity enables it to carry multiple sensors and its internal weapons bay can house 1,360 kilograms of precision munitions or larger sensor payloads.
GA-ASI, an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPAS, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator RPA series and the Lynx multi-mode radar. With more than 5 million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike.