ER/MP Gray Eagle: Enhanced MQ-1C Predators for the Army
October 9/19: GBU-69/B Trials The US Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC), together with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), has performed a series of complex launch trials with the Dynetics baseline and Block I variant GBU-69/B Small Glide Munitions (SGMs) from an MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aircraft System. According to Jane’s, the services conducted the trials in late August at the US Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The tests mark the first time the GBU-69/B weapon system has been released from a UAS and represent an expanded platform set from which the munition can be employed. The baseline GBU-69/B SGM is a 60 lbs Class precision glide munition, 11.4 cm in diameter, and has a wingspan of 71.1 cm. The Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS. The aircraft offers extended endurance, increased payload capacity, and high-reliability. Its mission capabilities include surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition, communications relay, and weapons delivery.
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 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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