General Atomics‘ aeronautical systems business unit has transitioned the production line for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle to an extended-range variant of the unmanned aircraft system for the U.S. Army.
The company said Tuesday it commenced developmental tests on the first four MQ-1C ER units and expects to begin follow-on operational test and evaluation activities in the spring of 2018.
David Alexander, president of aircraft systems at GA-ASI, said the long-range variant is equipped with new technologies designed to support battlefield operations.
To date, MQ-1C Gray Eagle systems have supported 12 Army operational units and recorded more than 290,000 flight hours.
The updated platform flew for more than 40 consecutive hours during a recent endurance test flight, compared with the 25-hour flight endurance time recorded for the original Gray Eagle model.
GA-ASI aims to begin to delivery of MQ-1C ER units to customers in the summer of 2018.