General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has test-flown a new model of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned air vehicle, allowing it to carry more equipment and fly longer.
The new-model aircraft is equipped with a centerline belly attachment that can be occupied by either a pod-mounted payload or 227kg (500lb) fuel tank. When equipped with additional fuel, the aircraft will gain 50% greater range.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
The aircraft also has a new engine, a Lycoming DEL-120 (replacing a Thielert Centurion), allowing for "growth capability for an improved airworthiness design, with the potential of incorporating lightning protection, damage tolerance and traffic collision avoidance system features," according to General Atomics.
The current Gray Eagle - a customised version of the ubiquitous Predator UAV - is flown solely by the US Army.