General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has operated the first flight of a new Air Launched Effect, the Eaglet, from a US Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned air vehicle (UAV).
The demonstration took place on 8 December 2022 at Utah’s Dugway Proving Grounds, says GA-ASI.
“The first flight of the Eaglet was an important milestone for the GA-ASI/U.S. Army team,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander.
“Eaglet is intended to be a low-cost, survivable [unmanned air system] with the versatility to be launched from a Gray Eagle, rotary-wing aircraft, or ground vehicles. It enables extended reach of sensors and increased lethality while providing survivability for manned aircraft.”
GA-ASI did not provide details such as the flight’s duration, or whether any mission capabilities were demonstrated.
GA-ASI says that Eaglet falls in the ‘ALE Large’ category, which means it can carry larger, more powerful sensors and payloads.
A Gray Eagle can carry an ALE such as Eaglet out to extended ranges before deploying it. The system can be controlled, says GA-ASI, via “unmanned-unmanned teaming or as a component of advanced teaming command and control concepts.”
Small, inexpensive ALEs are seen as a critical capability for various aviation assets, as they can greatly extend a given platform’s reach and create dilemmas for adversaries. They are envisaged as carrying software and payloads tailored to specific missions such as ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and electronic warfare.
ALEs are also envisaged as acting as decoys and loitering munitions.