GA-ASI attracts customer for a high-altitude Avenger, says supplier

Lockheed Martin briefed reporters yesterday about the targeting system for the F-35 and dropped somehow two bombshells about the General Atomic Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) Avenger.

The Avenger apparently has a customer, and that customer wants “Global Hawk-like” or “U-2-like” sensors for the high altitude surveillance mission, Lockheed says. Unfortunately for Lockheed, that also means that plans to install the F-35′s electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) on the Avenger are on hold.

GA-ASI declined to comment about Lockheed’s statements.

But now that Lockheed’s statements are out there, we can at least talk about the potential implications.

First, who could this customer be? GA-ASI has sold the Predator/Warrior/Reaper family to a wide range of US military services, intelligence groups, civilian agencies and foreign militaries. I’m assuming Lockheed did not brief reporters about classified information, so that probably rules out the CIA or DIA as the potential buyer.

Second, what does the “high-altitude” part means? I’ve perhaps incorrectly thought of the Avenger as a direct replacement for the medium-altitude Predator/Reaper family, but what if the stealthy, jet-powered UAV is really meant to challenge the RQ-4, especially on the export market? GA-ASI has said that the Avenger is designed to operate at up to 60,000ft. Could certain foreign militaries — Australia? Singapore? Japan? — desire an alternative to the Global Hawk?


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6 Responses to GA-ASI attracts customer for a high-altitude Avenger, says supplier

  1. airplanejim 19 February, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    Considering the cost of the Global Hawk it would be rational to think that someone would want a cheaper less capable version. Most countries, such as those mentioned, don’t need the extended time and range coverage the Global Hawk provides. This would be the same argument the KC-767 vs. the KC-30 has today. Do you want/need or pay for the differences in capability?

  2. kimer 24 February, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    Australia was on track for Global Hawk to work alongside future P-8s, but that got postponed a while back. Cheaper alternative might be called for.

    Lets add India to the potentials.

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