General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has set a new endurance record with its Avenger extended range (ER) drone.
The next-generation Avenger ER flew 23.4 continuous hours in a representative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance configuration while carrying out a simulated reconnaissance mission. This exceeded the 20 hour flight test goal and reflects a 10 hour improvement over the baseline Predator C Avenger aircraft.
Combined, the Avenger and the Avenger ER have accumulated over 20,000 flight hours.
“Avenger ER continues to meet and exceed its development goals,” said David Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “By setting this new high endurance mark, we have demonstrated the tremendous capability of this aircraft to our customers.”
The Avenger ER has an increased wingspan of 76 feet and provides a balance of long-loiter ISR and precision-strike capability. The platform has a 3,000-pound payload bay and is capable of flying at over 400 knots.
It also has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 19,500 pounds, which is achieved using a co-cured composite center wing and heavyweight landing gear as well as integrating a dual-redundant, light-weight brake control capability that uses an anti-lock brake system.
The Avenger platform is also being used as a surrogate for GA-ASI’s proposed MQ-25 tanker drone, including early ground and flight test of the deck handling system, mission specific hardware and software, and all flight and mission data links and communications. Using Avenger as an MQ-25 surrogate ahead of the contract award will significantly reduce the schedule for getting the MQ-25 system operating quickly for the US Navy.
The platform's avionics system is based on the Reaper drone. The Avenger ER supports an array of sensors and weapons payloads to perform ISR and ground support missions.