Unmanned aerial systems developer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) revealed it flew a new air-launched effect (ALE), a small UAS deployed from a larger UAS, for the first time recently.
Dubbed the Eaglet, the ALE was launched from a US Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS as part of a flight demonstration based out of the Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah, on December 8, 2022.
According to the company, the Eaglet flight was jointly funded by GA-ASI and the US Army Combat Capabilities Development (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC).
“The first flight of the Eaglet was an important milestone for the GA-ASI/US Army team,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “Eaglet is intended to be a low-cost, survivable UAS with the versatility to be launched from a Gray Eagle, rotary-wing aircraft, or ground vehicles. It enables extended reach of sensors and increased lethality while providing survivability for manned aircraft.”
Eaglet fits into the ‘ALE large’ category, which encompasses larger, more powerful sensors or payloads. Because of its design, Eaglet is capable of carrying a range of payloads in support of multiple Army missions.
As explained by the company, a Gray Eagle can carry an Eaglet “for thousands of kilometers” before launching it while being controlled through unmanned-unmanned teaming or as a component of advanced teaming command and control concepts.
The company did not provide details on the Eaglet’s range after it launches from a Gray Eagle, or its payload capacity.
Eaglet can work in concert with other long-range payloads carried by Gray Eagles, helicopters, or other platforms to support deep sensing in multi-domain operations.
With this successful flight of the Eaglet, GA-ASI said it would work with the US Department of Defense to feature it in other exercises to further determine its potential.
The previously unknown Eaglet is the newest entry into GA-ASI’s Evolution series of UAS concepts. Evolution is preceded by the Gambit “autonomous collaborative platform”, and the Sparrowhawk and LongShot air-launched drones.