U.S. Army National Guard to Get 12 ‘Anti-Drone Hunter’ Gray Eagles

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 11:08 AM, October 11, 2023
  • 1023
U.S. Army National Guard to Get 12 ‘Anti-Drone Hunter’ Gray Eagles
MQ-1C Gray Eagle

The U.S. Army National Guard is set to receive the first 12 units of Gray Eagle drones equipped with General Atomics' revolutionary 'Eagle Eye' radar, featuring anti-drone capabilities in 2026.

In a Monday interview at the Association of the U.S. Army's conference in Washington, Mike Shortsleeve, the Vice President of Defense Department strategic development, revealed that Gray Eagle 25M drones are now being produced with the Eagle Eye synthetic aperture radar.

According to General Atomics' fact sheet, the radar can accurately detect targets up to 50 miles away with high resolution, extending to 125 miles when utilized for maritime surveillance.

Recent global conflicts, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, have underscored the growing significance of small drones in modern warfare.

The drone threat is anticipated to escalate, driven by technological advancements like artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with reduced production costs.

A collaborative approach enables Gray Eagles to identify and track a target, facilitating the transfer of this information to another counter-drone system capable of neutralizing an enemy UAV using a cost-effective weapon, such as a cannon or directed-energy system.

In a May test, the Eagle Eye radar successfully tracked a small fixed-wing drone made from balsa wood, significantly smaller than what military forces typically encounter. A prior test in late 2022 demonstrated the radar's capability to shoot down a drone.

General Atomics has outlined its plan to deliver the first batch of 12 Eagle Eye-equipped Gray Eagle 25Ms to the Army National Guard in the latter half of 2026, with additional deployments for the active-duty Army. The company intends to continue manufacturing Gray Eagles with the new radar until the military determines otherwise.

The 25M variant of the Gray Eagle incorporates open-architecture aircraft and ground systems, an enhanced engine, advanced data links, and an extended operational range.

Additionally, the Eagle Eye radar can be employed to detect and counter loitering munitions, which have played a crucial role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

While several foreign nations have expressed interest in acquiring Eagle Eye-equipped drones, specific countries have not been disclosed. Shortsleeve emphasized the radar's adaptability to various platforms beyond the Gray Eagle.

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