Gray Eagle UAVs have made 20,000 automated takeoffs and landings. (Army)
The Army’s Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft has set a record by achieving 20,000 automated launches and recoveries using the Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLS), according to manufacturer General Atomics. The previous milestone had been 10,000 Gray Eagle launch and recoveries in June 2012.
“These last 10,000 takeoffs and landings were achieved without a single event of significant damage,” said Frank Pace, president of General Atomic’s Aeronautical Systems. ATLS has been deployed at eight sites, including three overseas, with more sites scheduled for operation by January 2015. ATLS has been recently tested for reduced takeoff and landing patters in limited air space, said a General Atomics news release.
The Gray Eagle, a Predator derivative, is currently flying 3,200 hours per month. Block I aircraft have accumulated more than 80,000 flight hours since 2009. Some 75 Gray Eagles have been delivered, with another 34 scheduled within the next 14 months.