General Atomics deal extends Army Gray Eagle support

The Army awards a sustainment contract to General Atomics for its Gray Eagle drone.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has secured a $310 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for logistics support of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system sustainment operations.

The Gray Eagle is an Army derivative of the battle-tested MQ-1 Predator attack drone. It was first deployed in Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division in 2009 and has seen many other battlefields since.

According to a General Atomics fact sheet, the UAS reports 29,000-ft. altitudes, an endurance of 25 hours and speeds up to 167 knots. Internal and external payloads top out at 1,075 lbs. and include electro-optical/infrared sensors with laser designation, synthetic aperture radar, communications relays and four Hellfire missiles.

The UAS has featured prominently in Operation Inherent Resolve, the joint campaign to destroy ISIS.  An Inside Defense report last month revealed that Congress approved a $27.3 million reallocation request from the Defense Department to replace several UAS destroyed in the fight against ISIS.

And last year, the Gray Eagle engaged in an unmanned-manned training exercise with an Army AH-64 Apache helicopter in South Korea. The UAS streamed video and metadata via a line-of-sight data link directly to the helicopter, which relayed the drone’s feed to ground forces.

This technology, in development for several years, was also used in Afghanistan in recent years. Apache and Kiowa pilots are able now to view real-time video feeds from nearby drones and also control the sensor payload.

Work will be performed on the UAS in Poway, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 2017. To fund FY-2017 operations and maintenance, $74 million was obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command in Alabama is the contracting activity.

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