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Gray Eagle Drone Hits 1 Million Flight Hours Mark

Earlier in March, defense contractor General Atomics (GA-ASI) announced a significant development for its Gray Eagle Extended Range drone; the company conducted a successful test of a new command and control solution for it. Now, this particular drone is celebrating a different type of achievement.
General Atomics Gray Eagle 6 photos
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The Gray Eagle was introduced in 2009 as a platform capable of doing anything from surveillance to offensive missions. There are several versions of it presently on the market, but the breed as a whole just passed over the 1 million flight hours threshold.

“This landmark event demonstrates the inherent value of our Gray Eagle systems for the warfighter,” said in a statement GA-ASI President David R. Alexander.

“It also is a testament to the great partnership between GA-ASI and the U.S. Army, which have worked together to expand the capability of Gray Eagle so the system will continue to be a key enabler for today’s mission and an enduring platform for tomorrow’s Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).”

At the moment, there are about 250 Gray Eagle drones serving the needs of the U.S. Army, each with an average mission capability of 40 hours. The one million hours mark would mean an average of 4,000 hours per drone or 100 full-time missions for each of them. GA-ASI says the bulks of those flight hours were conducted in support of deployed operations.

The Gray Eagle is powered by a Thielert Centurion engine that develops 165 hp (180 hp for the Extended Range variant). The drone can fly at speeds of up to 192 mph (309 kph), at the height of a maximum of 29,000 feet (8,839 meters).

As far as weaponry is concerned, the Gray Eagle can pack on its four hardpoints four Hellfire missiles (or eight Stinger missiles), or four Viper Strike bombs.

General Atomics is working on upgrading the drone with expanded payload capabilities, but also with a new engine capable of developing 200 hp.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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