SAN DIEGO. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA‑ASI), a manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems (also known as unmanned aircraft systems, UAS, or drones), radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, announced the first flight of its new Avenger Extended Range (ER) aircraft, an extended range version of its multimission jet-powered Predator C Avenger.
“The first flight of Avenger ER is a significant achievement in the evolution of Predator C’s proven performance and multimission capability,” GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue says. “The increased endurance and high payload capacity will deliver tremendous capability to our customers, who need persistent situational awareness and strike mission affordability.”
Avenger ER boasts an increased wingspan of 76 feet, 2,200 pounds of additional fuel, endurance of 20 hours compared to its predecessor, the Avenger. The RPA provides an optimal balance of long loiter intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and precision-strike capability, supporting a wide array of sensors and weapons payloads to perform ISR and ground support missions.
Like the legacy Avenger, Avenger ER features avionics based upon the combat-proven Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, has a 44-foot long fuselage, 3,000-pound payload bay, and is capable of flying at over 400 KTAS. Avenger ER, along with its predecessor, is designed to carry payloads such as the all-weather GA-ASI Lynx multimode radar, the MS-177 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, and the 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
GA-ASI developed Avenger on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds with the intent of making an RPA that has a quick-response, armed reconnaissance capability. First flown in April 2009, the aircraft’s fuselage was extended by four feet in 2012 to accommodate larger payloads and fuel. Avenger received an FAA-issued Experimental Certificate (EC) in 2016, enabling it to operate in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS).
The flight occurred on 27 October 2016 at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, delivers situational awareness by providing remotely piloted aircraft systems, radar, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems business unit is a designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPA systems, including Predator A, Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, Gray Eagle, Predator C Avenger, and Predator XP.
It also manufactures a variety of state-of-the-art digital Ground Control Stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations. The Mission Systems business unit designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx Multi-mode Radar and sophisticated Claw sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and remotely piloted aircraft. It also focuses on providing integrated sensor payloads and software for ISR aircraft platforms and develops high energy lasers, electro-optic sensors, and meta-material antennas.
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