ER/MP Gray Eagle: Enhanced MQ-1C Predators for the Army
February 26/17: After 21 years of service, the MQ-1 Predator UAV will be retired in 2018 . The USAF will instead opt for a full MQ-9 Reaper fleet citing better equipment and overall operational capabilities such as bigger payloads, higher flight ceilings, and top speeds. As a result, the USAF will no longer have to maintain a training pipeline or equipment on two separate aircraft, which eliminates the cost of operating two different airframes. Speaking on the Reaper, 432nd Operations Group commander Col. Joseph said in a statement “I think when we look at the legacy of the MQ-1 we’re going to be scratching our heads wondering how we did so much with so little.”
Its initial battles were fought within the Pentagon, but the US Army’s high-end UAV has made its transition to the battlefield.
The ER/MP program was part of the US Army’s reinvestment of dollars from the canceled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, and directly supports the Army’s Aviation Modernization Plan. The US Air Force saw this Predator derivative as a threat and tried to destroy it, but the program survived the first big “Key West” battle of the 21st century. Now, the MQ-1C “Gray Eagle” is in production as the US Army’s high-end UAV. As CENTCOM’s wars end, however, the Gray Eagle may find that staying in the fleet is as hard as getting there.
This FOCUS article offers a program history, key statistics and budget figures, and ongoing coverage of the program’s contracts and milestones.
The MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and its Band of Brothers
The Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle
Sensors and Add-Ons
The Army’s ER/MP Program
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2016 – 2017
FY 2014 – 2015
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2005 – 2007
Appendix A: US Army et. al. vs. USAF Over UAVs
Appendix B: Who Controls the UAVs? Readings & Primers
Background: Gray Eagle UAVs & Related Tech
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