General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) Avenger unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flew with a a Lockheed Martin Legion Pod over the high desert of southern California for the first time ever.
The industry-funded demonstration flight took place on July 2 and brings military aviators one step closer to gaining autonomous systems that support manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) in joint all-domain operations.
During the flight, Legion Pod’s infrared search and track system, IRST21, detected multiple fast-moving aircraft operating in the area and fed target tracking information to the Avenger’s autonomy engine. The autonomy prioritized the targets informing Avenger maneuvers for target engagement.
“This flight demonstrates a critical sensor capability that enables unmanned combat air vehicles like the Avenger to operate autonomously in Joint All-Domain Operations,” said Dave Belvin, vice president of Sensors and Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin. “We designed Legion Pod to passively detect and track targets for tactical fighter pilots in radar-denied environments. This capability provides the data necessary to enable unmanned vehicles to track and engage hostile airborne targets without human intervention.”
This flight builds on GA-ASI’s autonomy flight test series that started in December 2020 to demonstrate next generation air-to-air unmanned aerial vehicle functionality. Integrating Legion Pod software into the Avenger Mission Management System (MMS) took less than three months and was enabled though the Open Mission Systems (OMS) message standards, the company said.
GA-ASI revealed the flight milestone days after a US Air Force F-15C shot down a QF-16 aerial target in the first-ever live fire of an Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) cued by the Legion Pod’s IRST system.