MQ-1C Gray Eagle was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to serve the US army.
It is basically an extended range/ multipurpose unmanned aircraft system and is an improved version of the combat-proven Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. This powerful aircraft system is designed to carry the maximum internal payload of 261kg; however, the external payload can be 227kg. The best part is that it can carry multiple payloads in one go.
With the perfect mixture of advanced technologies, Gray Eagle is capable enough to perform target acquisition, surveillance, reconnaissance, signals intelligence, command and control, attack, electronic warfare, battle damage assessment missions, and an improvised explosive device. Gray Eagle has undergone around 238 flights of 1700 flight hours during the initial training and evaluation period of seven months.
The first most full company of this famous aircraft, F/227 was deployed years ago in the month of June 2012. In the future, the US army is planning to create 11 Warrior units with five ground control and 12 UAV stations. Stats reveal that up to this date, 61 such aircraft have been provided to the US army and other 44 Gray Eagle UAS are being processed soon.
Design and Development of MQ-1C Gray Eagle:
The design for extended range multipurpose UAV was first initiated by the US Army in the year 2002 with an idea to replace RQ-5 Hunter. At that time, other competitors for this model were General Atomics Warrior and the upgraded version of RQ-5 Hunter. Warrior UAS was recognized as the winner in the year 2005 and with that, General Atomics was given a contract of $214 million for the development and demonstration of the system. As per the $1bn program, developers finished the design of the first aircraft in the year 2009 and then dealt for Low-rate initial production for this aircraft was signed in March 2010.
Later, Warrior was given a new name, MQ-1C, by the Department of Defence, United States; however, further, in August 2010, they assigned Gray Eagle as its official name. In order to introduce this aircraft to the field, the quick reaction capability units of Gray Eagle were later deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the meanwhile, the Gray Eagle aircraft were integrated to AGM-114 Hellfire missile and successful testing for the same was done in August 2010. The armed systems are basically designed for the Afghanistan area.
Gray Eagle is managed from a ground-based control station that includes a combination of software and hardware for critical flight management. The entire system is mounted on a five-ton medium tactical vehicle. Furthermore, the operator consoles can be used for weapon launch, payload control, control, and command operations. The maximum altitude that Gray Eagle can cover is 29,000ft with the enhanced endurance range of 30 hours. It can achieve a maximum speed of 150KTAS. Also, the Thielert heavy-fuel engine makes it a more powerful solution for army operations. It works with ‘single fuel in the battlefield’ concept and appears the most reliable solution for the US army.
28 ft long
56 ft wingspan
7 ft high
165 hp engine
192 mph max speed
25 hours max fly time
29k max flying hieght