Army Looking for Lightweight weapons for UAS Platforms

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he Army could be looking to expand the lethality of its drone fleet, recently issuing a request for information for small guided munitions that can be outfitted to rotary wing and unmanned aerial systems. Specifically, the Army said its primary interest is in weapons of 60 pounds or less—and preferably in the 25-pounds range.

Additionally, these weapon systems should be able to engage both moving and stationary targets that include lightly armored vehicles, fleeting light vehicles and dismounted combatants in day and night conditions, with low collateral damage.

The Army already operates UASs with lethal payloads such as the medium-altitude, long-range MQ-1C Gray Eagle that can carry four Hellfire missiles weighing roughly 100 pounds each.

Hellfire missiles – the primary munition outfitted on unmanned aircraft associated with the controversial targeted killing program run by the CIA using the dual surveillance and strike capability of drones – have been described by many, such as former CIA director Michael Hayden, as one the most accurate and humane forms of targeting, given their precision and small warheads that limit collateral damage.

The Army is not releasing details regarding the platforms, regions or units the armaments being requested would be applied to, saying that information is too sensitive, a contracting employee told Defense Systems. “Inquiries regarding sensitive information such as specific platforms, Army units and regions will not be addressed in this forum,” the RFI states.

As such, it is not clear if the Army wishes to arm smaller UAS platforms such as the MQ-5B or the RQ-7B Shadow, or if it wishes to apply the desired technology to the Gray Eagle, potentially freeing coveted size, weight and power requirements for additional payloads.

Army officials have indicated in the past that they are interested in taking weight off of certain UAS platforms to increase payload capacity. Additionally, they have discussed potentially weaponizing the Shadow, an aircraft with a 14-foot wingspan that has been used for surveillance, target acquisition and battle damage assessment.

“Weaponing Shadow comes at a cost to the commander who now has to maybe trade station time and fuel for a payload,” Col. Thomas Von Eschenbach, the director of the capabilities integration center at TRADOC, told reporters last fall.  “It depends on what it weighs and what it can do. So at what cost would it take, and what munition would that do? We’re not ruling it out [but] on the current Shadow system, that’s a challenge.”

There has also been talk of changing the armament of the Gray Eagle to include other weapons than just Hellfire missiles.

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USAF buys more Block 30 GCS.. spinning up for increased Combat Air Patrols

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General Atomics – Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, has been awarded a $32,326,408 delivery order (0010) to previously awarded contract FA8620-15-G-4040 for Block 30 ground control station production undefinitized contract action effort.

Work will be performed at Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2018. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Fiscal 2015 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of $16,151,200 are being obligated at the time of award.

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San Diego Air & Space Museum Honors GA-ASI Executives with Hall of Fame Induction

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Admiral Cassidy

Frank Pace, Tom Cassidy Inducted into International Air & Space Hall of Fame

SAN DIEGO – 25 November 2015 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced that Frank W. Pace, GA-ASI’s current Aircraft Systems president, and Thomas J. Cassidy, former Aircraft Systems president, have been inducted into the San Diego International Air & Space Museum’s Hall of Fame for their bold contributions to the RPA industry, fortifying the company’s status within an elite top tier of global defense contractors.

“Frank Pace and Tom Cassidy have forever changed the landscape of the aerospace industry through their tireless efforts to create game-changing, state-of-the-art RPA systems, and both are pivotal players in the company’s continued worldwide success,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “On behalf of GA-ASI, I thank them for their ongoing contributions to warfighters around the world who rely on our products for their unparalleled situational awareness and life-saving capabilities.”

Frank Pace has overseen approximately 70-percent of the flight hours accumulated by company aircraft in the last five years. This milestone serves as testament to the visionary leadership he has provided over the course of his 24-year career with GA-ASI. Pace’s impact to the success of the organization can be measured by the successful conceptualization, development, and delivery of Predator® and Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper® to the U.S. Air Force; development and delivery of Altair® to NASA; entry into production of Predator C Avenger®, and development and production of Predator XP. The success of these aircraft has resulted in the dramatic expansion of both the company’s domestic and international customer base, which includes NASA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, UK, Italy, France, and the UAE. It is noteworthy to mention that in addition to his applied leadership in aircraft development, Pace has led numerous key demonstrations, including the implementation of RPA satellite communications (SATCOM), Predator Hellfire missiles, and Sky Warrior® and Gray Eagle for the U.S. Army.

Rear Admiral Thomas Cassidy (Ret., U.S. Navy) has left a legacy at GA-ASI that is enduring and has set a solid course for the company’s current success. His specific efforts have established GA-ASI as the global leader in RPA systems. Predator/Gray Eagle-series aircraft have been accepted by U.S. and foreign governments into everyday operations and have revolutionized the way the U.S. military fights wars and defends the homeland. During Cassidy’s tenure, he was instrumental in establishing a strong corporate culture that promoted quality, leadership, and entrepreneurship. These attributes established the foundation which can be measured by the current success of GA-ASI operations, including design, manufacturing, training, and support activities of the organization’s RPA programs. Of specific note, Cassidy led the development of the MQ-9 Reaper® and Avenger which are in the U.S. inventory and operationally supporting U.S. interests worldwide. Cassidy retired from the day-to-day management of the Aircraft Systems business unit in March 2010 but remains on the company’s Board of Directors as Chairman of its Executive Committee.

“The significant contributions that Mr. Pace and Mr. Cassidy have made over the span of their impressive aerospace careers have transformed the global RPA industry, and the San Diego Air & Space Museum is proud to induct them into our International Air & Space Hall of Fame,” said Jim Kidrick, president and CEO, San Diego Air & Space Museum. “Through their efforts, GA-ASI continues to push the envelope into new frontiers, successfully creating cutting-edge capabilities to protect U.S. and allied forces in combat, support homeland defense, and expand the RPA market worldwide.”

The International Air & Space Hall of Fame represents the commemoration of those, who throughout history and around the world, have made a significant difference and whose contributions are worthy of special recognition. The list of previous honorees are some of the world’s most significant aviation pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, businessmen, designers, spokesmen, and space pioneers. Previous inductees include Orville and Wilbur Wright, Howard Hughes, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, and Buzz Aldrin.