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General Atomics Gray Eagle 25M Completes Maiden Flight

General Atomics has completed the first flight of its Gray Eagle 25M unmanned aerial system in El Mirage, California.

The drone is the latest iteration of the MQ-1C medium-altitude, long-endurance drone developed to upgrade the US Army’s MQ-1 Predators.

The 25M incorporates advanced datalinks, upgraded engines, open architecture design, and ground systems to match electronic threats and sustain expeditionary flights in complex environments.

The El Mirage trial is part of the company’s ongoing partnership with the US Army to integrate multi-domain operation drones for active duty and National Guard teams.

At the demonstration, the 25M showcased computer processing and data storage capacity to validate its enhanced autonomous performance.

The aircraft’s new HFE 2.0 engine and power supply systems were also tested.

“In [a multi-domain operation] environment, Soldiers need the aircraft to operate with increased reliability along with reduced manning and equipment, which is why GE-25M significantly reduces the maintenance required on the aircraft,” General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. President David Alexander stated.

MQ-1C Gray Eagle
MQ-1C Gray Eagle. Photo: Capt. Briana McFarland/US Army

Gray Eagle Contract

The El Mirage demo followed the US Department of Defense’s award to General Atomics in December 2023 for the Gray Eagle’s modernized variant.

The $389-million contract ordered an undisclosed number of 25Ms for delivery later this year.

Once deployed, the drones will be utilized by the army through the 2050s, General Atomics wrote.

Synthetic Aperture Radar

In October 2023, the company announced the start of production for the 25M’s synthetic aperture radar, which can locate targets at up to 201 kilometers (125 miles).

The radar, called Eagle Eye, is poised as the aircraft’s prime equipment for future operations against smaller drones, loitering munitions, and other counter-unmanned aerial system weapons.

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