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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

03 May 10. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. today introduced Sea AvengerTM, a carrier-based derivative of its Predator® C Avenger® UAS, to fulfill the U.S. Navy’s need for an unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) system. The company formally proposed Sea Avenger to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) via a Request for Information (RFI) submitted on 30 April.
“Sea Avenger fulfills the Navy’s need for a carrier-based unmanned aircraft system that offers long-endurance, proven ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] and precision-strike capabilities,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. Like Predator C Avenger, Sea Avenger presents a low-risk, high technology ready procurement option as it leverages more than 18 years of Predator-series UAS development, manufacturing, and system support, along with one million flight hours of operational experience. In addition, many Predator-series elements, components, and subsystems already provide mature, proven, and affordable mission capabilities desired by the Navy for a UCLASS system. Anticipating a future requirement for a carrier-based UAS, GA-ASI designed specific features into its Predator C Avenger to facilitate subsequent development of an aircraft uniquely suitable for carrier operations that would also integrate seamlessly into the carrier air wing. These include a highly fuel-efficient engine and inlet design, retractable electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, internal weapons bay, and folding wings. The aircraft’s structure was also designed with the flexibility to accommodate carrier suitable landing gear, tail hook, drag devices, and other provisions for carrier operations.
“Sea Avenger is an affordable and transformational technology that will provide commanders with enhanced situational awareness and time-sensitive strike,” noted J. Neal Blue, chairman and CEO, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Sea Avenger is based upon its predecessor, Predator C Avenger. Predator C is designed to perform high-speed, multi-mission persistent ISR and precision, time-sensitive strike missions over land or sea. The current configuration features a 44-foot long fuselage and 66-foot wingspan, is cable of flying at 400 KTAS for 20 hours, and can operate up to 50,000 feet. Avenger incorporates a pure jet power plant and carries a Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), various EO/IR camera systems, and up to 3,000 pounds of internal ordnance, as well as other sensors. The aircraft is based on an open, modular architecture that provides “plug and play” system configuration, configuration management, and significant flexibility for rapid, controlled change, adaptation, and growth. Developed on company funds for near-term military use, Predator C Avenger is successfully continuing through its planned test program, with a second aircraft currently under development and expected to be completed by the end of the year.

03 May 10. U.S. war fighters will be able to keep tabs on their enemies for longer periods of time, communicate more easily with their commanders, and deliver more cargo to more remote locations using the new Fire-X medium-range vertical unmanned aerial system (VUAS) unveiled today by Northrop Grumman Corporation and Bell Helicopter, a Textron Company. The two companies have joined forces to develop and demonstrate the new rugged, high-capacity unmanned aerial system based on the four-blade, single-engine Bell 407 helicopter. First flight of Fire-X is expected by the end of 2010. The new system also represents Northrop Grumman’s entry in an anticipated U.S. Navy competition in 2011 to demonstrate a new medium-range UAS.
“The Fire-X system integrates Northrop Grumman’s proven unmanned systems know-how with a proven, FAA-certified helicopter airframe that’s been in service since 1996,” said Gene Fraser, sector vice president and general manager for the

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