Defense

June 28, 2012

In short term, Gray Eagle trades reliability for capability

Tags:
by C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

The 3,200-pound Grey Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System waits for its mission at sunset during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Army’s MQ-1C Grey Eagle program is under its estimated budget, and is also meeting expected availability rates in theater.

The Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle program is under its estimated budget, and is also meeting expected availability rates in theater.

While the reliability rate of the unmanned aircraft system, or UAS, is not where it could be, Army leaders have said for now the service is okay with that because the UAS doing more in terms of capability than what it was originally designed to do.

“We focused on what is more important. And what is more important is getting capability into hands of war fighters down range,” said Maj. Gen. William Crosby, program executive officer, Army aviation. “The feedback we’ve gotten from our war fighter down range is this system is a game-changer.”

The Gray Eagle UAS is part of a system that includes ground control stations and ground equipment. The system provides reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and acquisition capabilities for commanders. The aircraft can carry multiple sensors and is also weaponized with the Hellfire missile.

“It’s done so well, we keep adding stuff to it,” Crosby said. “We’re adding sensors, we’re updating the engine.”

With the Gray Eagle, the Army has made a conscious decision to focus on capability for now, Crosby said, and will focus later on reliability.

So far, reliability problems have been attributed mostly to software issues that arise with the addition of new sensors to the Gray Eagle, Crosby said. Those problems change as new sensors are added. However, Crosby said, when those software problems are fixed, they don’t reappear.

“That gives the team confidence we will be able to resolve this when we quit adding new capability,” Crosby said.

When the Gray Eagle first was introduced into theater, it was equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor. Now the system carries weapons, and the Army has also added the Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator as well as air-data relay capability.

In Afghanistan now, the Army has two “quick reaction capability,” or ORCs, platoon-sized aviation elements that are each equipped with four Gray Eagles. The first of those QRCs was initially in Iraq, in August 2009, before it moved in December 2012 to Afghanistan. The second of the QRCs moved into Afghanistan in September 2010.

Also in Afghanistan now is the first full-sized Gray Eagle unit, F-227, which is a company-sized unit with three platoons of four aircraft each. Fox 227 entered Afghanistan in April 2012 and has done well there.

The F-227 unit has been flying now for about two months and “the unit has matured over the last 45 days or so,” said Col. Timothy Baxter, project manager, unmanned aircraft systems. Baxter said the unit flies three to four “strings” per day, gaining about 70-90 flying hours for the systems during each day of flying.

The Gray Eagles in theater now have flown, together, about 24,000 combat hours. Baxter said availability for the Gray Eagle is at about 80 percent now, which is what was expected, though the Army’s objective for the aircraft is 90 percent.

In January 2013, the Army expects to field another unit, F-1, with 12 aircraft, a unit similar to F-227. Before deploying to Afghanistan, the unit will participate in an initial operational testing and evaluation this summer.

The Army hopes to eventually field a company-sized Gray Eagle unit to every division, officials said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines March 4, 2015

News: Pentagon: Another BRAC will save money - Pentagon planners have a new pitch to lawmakers skeptical of a fresh round of base closings: We promise we’ll save money this time.   Business: China’s new C919 will begin test flights this year - China’s new superjet will take to the skies for the first time later this...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham

World War II pilot reunited with P-47

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 2...
 
 

News Briefs March 4, 2015

General: 8,500 Islamic State fighters killed in Iraq so far The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August, the top general overseeing the coalition said March 3. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Turning up the heat

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin ATHENA laser weapon system defeats a truck target by disabling the engine, demonstrating its military effectiveness against enemy ground vehicles. Latest evolution of Lockheed Martin l...
 
 

USO Visit

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Actor Vince Vaughn speaks with Edwards Airmen and 412th Security Forces Squadron members at the base library before introducing an advance screening of his new movie, “Unfinished Business,” at the base theater Feb. 28.
 
 

Sikorsky S-97 RAIDERô team begins final assembly of second aircraft

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., announced March 4 the start of final assembly of the second S-97 RAIDERô helicopter at the company’s Development Flight Center. Along with a team of industry suppliers, Sikorsky is developing two RAIDERô prototypes to demonstrate the revolutionary new capabilities in improved maneuverability and flight speed. The...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>