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First Sky Warrior aircraft for Army ER/MP program takes to the air

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA?ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical reconnaissance radars, today announced the successful flight of the first Sky Warrior® Block 1 aircraft for the U.S. Army's Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) UAS Program on March 31 from the company's El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, Calif.

"Army tactical commanders at the division level and below are now one step closer to having the RSTA [Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition] information they need to offer increased protection to their troops on the ground," said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.  "This milestone event was a collaborative effort between GA-ASI and our PM-UAS customer.  Jointly, this team planned and executed a methodical approach to first flight success."

The first flight of the Sky Warrior Block 1 aircraft marks continued progress towards the successful implementation of the Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of GA-ASI's multi-year contract for the ER/MP UAS Program, which calls for 17 Sky Warrior aircraft and seven One System Ground Control Stations (OSGCS).  The total program, including follow-on production, is estimated to be worth over $2 billion.  Other key "Team Sky Warrior" partners include AAI Corporation (OSGCS), SPARTA, Inc. (logistics support services), and L-3 Com/Communications Systems-West (TCDL and SATCOM communications).     

A derivative of the combat-proven Predator®, the innovative and technologically sophisticated Sky Warrior aircraft provides the U.S. Army with a reliable, affordable and compelling solution to meet challenging Army requirements for persistent RSTA and attack operations.  The aircraft will perform long-endurance, surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions with double the weapons capacity of Predator.  Featuring a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) for increased supportability in the field, Sky Warrior can fly above 25,000 feet on jet or diesel fuel with increased horsepower and significantly improved fuel efficiency.  The HFE powerplant also reduces maintenance costs, offers increased service life, and greatly simplifies logistics by ensuring a more readily available fuel source.  The aircraft is also equipped with triple redundant avionics, redundant flight controls/surfaces, and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads.

Press release issued by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems on April 15, 2008


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