On April 23, 2021, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) demonstrated enhanced situational awareness and targeting capability for ground forces during a company-funded technology demonstration at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The demonstration focused on enabling a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) to control the Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor on a Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and rapidly call for direct and indirect fire on an array of targets. This demonstration is another step in a series of demonstrations that began in November 2019.
“GA-ASI remains committed to advancing technology that provides maximum situational awareness and lethality to the warfighter,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “The JTAC’s use of the ATAK tablet, while teamed with the Gray Eagle ER, enables rapid situational awareness and engagements, which addresses one of the Army’s top priorities.”
The JTAC was able to see GE-ER video, aircraft location, and sensor field of regard utilizing an Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) and a TrellisWare TW-950 TSM ShadowÂ® Radio. Utilizing the GE-ER’s open-architecture, the JTAC was able to send digital â€˜Call for Fires’ to request artillery support, and a digital 9-line for Close Air Support with the push of a few buttons. The GE-ER, configured for Multi-Domain Operations, autonomously re-routed its flight path to provide the sensor data that the JTAC requested without commands from the GE-ER operator.
Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) is a next-generation advanced derivative of the battle-proven Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). GE-ER delivers long-endurance UAS surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions in support of the warfighter. The incorporation of GE-ER’s deep belly design and 500-pound centerline hard point allows for 900 pounds of internal fuel load, with the capability of an external fuel pod that can accommodate an additional 450 pounds (Gray Eagle’s fuel load is 600 pounds).
The use of this newly developed technology marks a significant improvement in situational awareness compared to the use of voice communications. The technology improved efficiency, reduced latency, and reduced risk of collateral damage. In addition, the JTAC’s ability to orient GE-ER sensors on targets from an ATAK tablet reduces man-in-the-loop errors and increases targeting speed. These advancements are critical elements to current and future armed conflicts that reduce the risk to Soldiers forward on the battlefield.
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.