Improved Gray Eagle drone flies for 45 hours non-stop

One of the main advantages of UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) over conventional aircraft is the ability to stay aloft for hours. Many hours.

Between Oct. 11 and Oct. 13, a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Improved Gray Eagle (IGE) drone, a next generation derivative of the Gray Eagle UAS, successfully completed the first of two planned U.S. Army endurance demo flights remaining in the air for 45.3 hours: the IGE took off from GA-ASI’s El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, Calif., at 6:56 a.m. on Oct. 11and landed almost two days later at 4:16 a.m. on Oct. 13.

The extended surveillabce coverage and the ability to self-transit to other remote distant location are among the IGE’s most important features. The drone was developed on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds to demonstrate the increased endurance potential and higher payload capacity with minor modifications to the existing Block 1 Gray Eagle platform.

Whilst this first flight saw the Improved Gray Eagle flying unarmed, during the second demonstration, planned for later this year,  the UAS is expected to carry external payload and weapons.

IGE has a Max Gross Takeoff Weight (MGTOW) of 4,200 pounds, utilizing the 205HP Lycoming DEL-120 engine. Thanks to an optional external fuel pod that can accommodate an additional 450 pounds it will able to conduct missions in excess of 50 hours.

Image credit: GA-ASI

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.