General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GAâ€‘ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced that its company-owned Avenger ER achieved a company milestone as it received an FAA-issued Experimental Certificate (EC) enabling the “Extended Range” Avenger to perform expanded operations in the U.S. National Airspace System. This is the second Avenger ER to receive a FAA EC. The first Avenger GA-ASI produced, received an EC in 2016. With avionics based upon the battle-proven Predator B/MQ-9 ReaperÂ®, the jet-powered Avenger is designed to perform high-speed, long-endurance missions over land or sea.
The aircraft has a 44-foot long fuselage, a 76-foot wingspan, a payload load of more than 4,000 pounds, is capable of flying at over 400 KTAS, and has an endurance of more than 20 hours. Avenger ER can support a wide array of sensors and weapons loads and has been designed to carry an all-weather GA-ASI LynxÂ® Multi-mode Radar, an Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor, Infrared Search and Track System (IRST) and a 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), delivering an optimal balance of long loiter intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and precision strike capability.
“Since 2005, GA-ASI has worked closely with the FAA to affirm the special airworthiness certification of RPAs, promoting their integration into the National Airspace System,” said GA-ASI Senior Director of Quick Action Programs, Pete Latta. “This EC will also help GA-ASI employ the latest configuration of the Avenger ER for customer payload testing and company investments in advanced UAS control technologies.”
GA-ASI plans to begin flight testing with the Avenger ER for multiple contracted and Internal Research & Development (IRAD) projects. The increased wingspan of 76 feet extends Avenger ER’s already impressive endurance to over 20 hours. In related news, GA-ASI also announced that its fleet of Avenger aircraft, which are engaged in a number of advanced test or research projects, surpassed the 30,000 flight hour milestone in February 2021. One project in which the Avengers are engaged is supporting the U.S. Air Force’s Skyborg Vanguard Program, which is pushing the boundaries in teaming autonomous systems with human-crewed platforms.
The Avenger ER employs the same materials and avionics as Predator B and is likewise controlled from the same fully-interoperable GA-ASI Ground Control Stations (GCS) used for operating Predator-series aircraft. Avenger’s low operating cost combined with high-altitude persistence make it an ideal platform to augment existing Low Density High Demand (LDHD) aircraft with long range RADAR, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), communication relay payloads or weapons. In a contested environment the Avenger platform can penetrate Weapon Engagement Zones (WEZ) of adversary Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (SAMs) without risking human life, or fly with long range sensors outside of the WEZ of even the longest range, strategic SAMs.
General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the PredatorÂ® RPA series and the LynxÂ® Multi-mode Radar. With more than six 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. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas.