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General Atomics Announces New ISR/Strike UAV

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) unveiled an artist’s illustration of a new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)/strike unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 14 September during the Air Force Association’s (AFA’s) annual conference.

The company did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication. But GA-ASI issued a statement that gave some insight into the aircraft’s attributes.

GA-ASI is embracing ultra-long endurance for this ISR/strike UAV. The company envisions this aircraft as a conduit, supplier, and consumer of information. GA-ASI believes that it is imperative that future unmanned systems are able to communicate, share information, and collaborate tighter, and intuitively with its human counterparts, across systems and domains.

The company views this ISR/strike UAV as being based on an interconnected framework of vision, operating concepts, agile capacity development, and rapid fielding that embraces a family of systems. GA-ASI’s operating concepts and agile capability development will prioritise openness, modularity, and expandability.

The ISR/strike UAV will leverage combat operational experience of the company’s MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) aircraft in UAV operations and digital engineering techniques. GA-ASI will focus on automation and autonomous capabilities for this ISR/strike UAV. GA-ASI developed a multi-mission control capability for this ISR/strike aircraft that will allow commanders to control up to six UAVs with a single pilot.

GA-ASI went with a blended wing-body with tailless design due to the physics involved in reducing the radar signature of an aircraft, according to an expert. Todd Harrison, director of the aerospace security project and defence budget analysis division at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington, DC, told Janes.

Image: Artist’s illustration of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s next generation ISR/strike UAV (GA-ASI)

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