General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) marked the first flight of a larger, heavier Avenger jet powered ‘Predator C‘ unmanned aerial vehicle. “The first flight of our second Avenger aircraft is a significant achievement as it refines the first prototype design to an operational capability,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “Avenger provides the right capabilities for the right cost at the right time and is operationally ready today. This aircraft offers unique advantages in terms of performance, cost, timescale, and adaptability that are unmatched by any other UAS in its class.”
The first flight of the second aircraft in the Avenger fleet occurred on January 12 at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. Tail 2 met all performance objectives in its first flight. The aircraft features a longer fuselage than the first Avenger aircraft – increased by four feet to accommodate larger payloads and fuel. The aircraft is equipped with avionics based upon the battle-proven Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper.
Avenger is designed to perform high-speed, long-endurance, multi-mission Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and precision-strike missions over land or sea. Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545 jet, the aircraft has a 13.41 m’ (44-foot) long fuselage, a 20.11 m’ (66-foot) wingspan, is capable of flying at airspeed of over 740 km/h (400 KTAS), and has an endurance of over 16 hours. The aircraft can support a wide array of sensors and weapons loads and has been designed to carry an all-weather GA-ASI Lynx Multi-mode Radar, an Electro-optical/ Infrared (EO/IR) sensor.
Avenger can carry up to 3,500 lb internally and its wing hard points are capable of carrying weapons ranging from the 500 lb class to the 2,000 lb class. For example, with the 2,000 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) the Avenger will be able to deliver an optimal balance of long loiter ISR and precision-strike capability.
Production of a third and fourth UAS in the Avenger series is also underway, with Tail 3 expected to fly by late summer. One of these aircraft will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force for flight testing and evaluation by the U.S. Air Force. Tail 4 is expected to fly by early next year.