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US Army orders more Gray Eagle UAVs

The US Army has made a $133 million modification to a contract for its General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned air vehicles to add 19 aircraft to the order.

Announced on 16 March, the modification is supported by FY2014 funds, and will cover the 19 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs, 19 satellite communications air data terminals, one ground support system and one lot of initial spares.

The contract is expected to be completed by 31 May 2017, and is a modification to the full-rate production (FRP) contract for 15 Gray Eagles that was awarded to General Atomics in September 2013 under FY2013 funding.

This initial FRP contract for the 15 aircraft plus associated ground equipment also included an option for four more aircraft, which the army says was exercised in December 2013 under FY2014 funds worth some $40 million, which are expected to be delivered by September 2016.

One army platoon consists of four aircraft, support equipment and a range of payloads, including electro-optical/infrared, synthetic aperture radar, ground-moving target indicator, laser range finder, laser designator, communications relay and four Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

In addition, in July 2014, the army announced that it had completed the integration and testing of an electronic warfare capability on board the MQ-1C.

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US Army

The Networked Electronic Warfare Remotely Operated (NERO) system, derived from the Communications Electronic Attack Surveillance and Reconnaissance jammer used on the manned Beechcraft C-12 aircraft, was adapted to be used on the UAV.

The testing took place from 2-19 June at Dugway Proving Ground, in Utah, during which NERO flew on the Gray Eagle for 32h during the testing, 20h of which was with the jammer active.

General Atomics provides the Gray Eagle aircraft, while Textron Systems provides the ground control system, and L-3 Communications the tactical common data link.

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