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Joint U.S.UK Extendor Project a 'Ringing Success'

Joint U.S./UK Extendor Project a 'Ringing Success'

Source: News Release, Cyndi Wegerbauer, January 22, 2001.

San Diego, California -- January 22, 2001 -- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, has announced the successful completion of Phase 1 of Project Extendor, an initiative managed through the UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) to evaluate the utility of using a Predator(r) unmanned aircraft to pass real-time operational data from a forward air controller (FAC) to a Royal Air Force Jaguar aircraft. During an eight day period, equipment from DERA was integrated into Predator and ground tests conducted before the first flight of Predator as a communication relay. Based on the interest of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Battlelab at Eglin AFB, Florida, the trials also included passing real-time data through DERA ground equipment to an USAF F-16 to further prove the 'sensor-to-shooter' concept.

Photo: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

During the two-week trial of Phase 1, three scenarios were conducted. In each, two ARC-210 radios in a back-to-back configuration were used to relay imagery and text data to the missions end-users. The C-band line-of-sight datalink was used for command and control of Predator through GA-ASI's ground control station (GCS) at the company's Flight Operations Facility in California. During the first scenario, the FAC identified a target and relayed information to the Jaguar via Predator. The information - a 9-line text message - was received by the Jaguar and transferred by the pilot into the target store. This placed a target diamond onto the heads-up display (HUD) and the pilot maneuvered the aircraft to the target. The pilot visually confirmed the accuracy of the HUD target marker against the ground target and released dummy bombs with no refinement of the target marker. This simulated the accuracy of bombs released against an unseen target (i.e., as if the target was obstructed by cloud cover).

During the second scenario, the same 9-line brief was sent from the FAC via Predator's ARC-210 radios to the strike aircraft. In addition to this communication, pre-formatted and annotated Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) and Fast Tactical Imagery (FTI) images were also sent from the GCS via Predator to the cockpit of the attacking aircraft. Both the text message and still-images of the target were available to the attack pilot before the dummy bombs were dropped.

The third scenario went one step further. In this case, Predator captured video imagery of the target and passed it to the command and control center (i.e., the GCS) which selected three screenshots that were annotated with a target triangle, North indication arrow and target co-ordinates. This information was then sent back through Predator to the attack aircraft. "This final element of Phase 1 enabled the concept of 'sensor-to-shooter' to be realized as a real-time advantage to the warfighting effort. Future trials will build on the excellent success of Phase 1" says DERA.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. is involved in the design and production of unmanned aircraft systems for various applications including surveillance, reconnaissance, targeting, atmospheric research and others. As the sole manufacturer of the highly successful and fully operational RQ-1 Predator and GNAT(r) systems, GA-ASI has grown its product offerings to include the high altitude ALTUS(r) for scientific research and tactical maneuver Prowler(r) II. In addition, GA-ASI is currently preparing for first flight of its next generation unmanned aircraft - jet powered Predator B - which will have increased performance and payload capacity over that of the currently operating Predator. GA-ASI's products are in extensive use by the U.S. government including the U.S. Air Force, NASA, Department of Energy and the U.S. Navy as well as by several overseas customers.


Related Links:

  • Contact: Cyndi Wegerbauer, Public Relations Manager, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. 858-455-2294; 858-455-4247 FAX 858-455-2294.
  • Photo Gallery:

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).