By B.C. Kessner

Days after submitting a Request for Information (RFI) proposal to the Navy for an unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) system, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) Monday unveiled its Sea Avenger unmanned aerial system (UAS).

“This UAS will provide the carrier-based, long range ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and precision strike capabilities that the Navy wants to field by 2018,” Christopher Ames, the company’s business development manager, told Defense Daily Monday at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space symposium at National Harbor.

Sea Avenger will be the carrier-based derivative of the company’s Predator C Avenger. According to Ames, Sea Avenger offers a low-risk, high technology ready procurement option.

“We’re leveraging over 18 years of Predator-family [UAS] development,” Ames said. “This includes all the manufacturing expertise, system support mechanisms…and more than a million hours of operational flight experience.”

Many Predator-series elements, components, and subsystems already provide mature, proven, and affordable mission capabilities desired by the Navy for a UCLASS system, the company added.

Ames said the company anticipated future requirements for a carrier-based UAS and incorporated specific features into the Predator C Avenger to facilitate development of a carrier operations aircraft.

Sea Avenger’s structure was designed to accommodate carrier suitable landing gear, tail hook, drag devices, and other provisions for carrier operations, he said.

“It is important to have an aircraft that can integrate easily into the carrier air wing,” Ames said.

Sea Avenger features folding wings, a retractable electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, an internal weapons bay, and a highly fuel-efficient engine and inlet design, he added.

The Predator C is designed to perform high-speed, multi-mission persistent ISR and precision, time-sensitive strike missions over land or sea.

In current configuration, it features a 44-foot long fuselage and 66-foot wingspan, is cable of flying at 400 KTAS for 20 hours, and can operate up to 50,000 feet.

“Sea Avenger will have a strike range of well more than 1,000 miles,” Ames said.

Avenger incorporates a pure jet power plant and carries a Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), various EO/IR camera systems, and up to 3,000 pounds of internal ordnance, as well as other sensors.

The aircraft is based on an open, modular architecture that provides “plug and play” system configuration, configuration management, and significant flexibility for rapid, controlled change, adaptation, and growth, GA-ASI said.

Developed on company funds for near-term military use, Predator C Avenger is successfully continuing through its planned test program, with a second aircraft currently under development and expected to be completed by the end of the year.