The American company General Atomics continues to develop advanced UAVs designed to interact with heavy equipment. A few days ago, she presented a full-size model of such a drone called Eaglet. In the future, it should become a “true master” for heavy UAVs MQ-1C and MQ-9, as well as expand their operational and combat capabilities.
Drone with drone
The concept of “Loyal Wingman” in its original form involves the creation of a UAV capable of interacting with the manned aircraft and work on its commands. Such a drone must take on the most dangerous work, reducing risks to the aircraft and its crew. It has recently been proposed to implement such a concept using only unmanned vehicles.
In 2020, the US Air Force launched the ALE (Air-Launched Effects) competition. Its goal is to create a new medium-weight drone that will be able to perform the functions of “known” in the UAV heavy class. The latter will be its carrier. Several companies have joined the program, including General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., which has extensive experience in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles.
A year ago, at the SOFIC-2021 conference on equipment and systems of the Special Operations Forces, GA-ASI demonstrated the appearance of a new product for the first time. In the published image, the artist showed a heavy UAV MQ-9, which launches two smaller “known” characteristic appearance. Later, new pictures with a promising drone appeared.
During SOFIC-2021, the developer emphasized the existence of the new project, but did not disclose its details. The name of the drone, its tasks, features and characteristics remain unknown.
A few months later, at a conference of the US Air Force Association, GA-ASI demonstrated a large-scale model of a previously shown UAV. As before, details and technical information were not provided.
The next SOFIC-2022 conference took place last week and GA-ASI showed its latest developments again. In particular, a full-size model of the famous drone was brought to the exhibition, which was shown only in the picture a year ago. This time the developer revealed the main features of the project and announced its plans for the future.
“Faithful slave” for heavy UAVs is called Eaglet. It is being developed as part of the ALE program and is also part of the GA Evolution Series initiative aimed at creating and developing new technologies and solutions in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The goal of the Eaglet project is to create a multi-purpose UAV that can be launched from heavy vehicles. Such devices, starting from the carrier, will be able to solve a wide range of combat and support tasks. According to the requirements of the ALE program, “faithful subordinates” must conduct reconnaissance using various means, provide targeting, use electronic warfare systems and even hit the targets.
Like other “faithful leads”, Eaglet UAVs are designed to work in hazardous areas. The loss of such a product from the enemy’s air defenses will not be a big problem. At the same time, the more expensive and valuable heavy UAV will remain outside the affected area and will continue to operate.
GA-ASI reports that a new Eaglet project will be presented to the US Air Force this summer. The first flight is scheduled for the end of the year. How long it will take to test and prove, and when the UAV will be able to reach the series, is not reported. The planned completion date of the ALE program was also not disclosed.