For its flagship Gray Eagle UAV, the U.S. Army with lead contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has selected an anti-jam GPS system from Cobham Aerospace Connectivity. The MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) platform is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed as an upgrade to the MQ-1 Predator.
The Digital Antenna Control Unit (DACU) and Controlled Radiation Pattern Array (CRPA) antenna system, which started shipping in Q2 2020, was chosen for its superior performance in both jammed and benign environments and its ability to output Direction Finding (DF) to on-board systems. This direction-finding capability allows the system to perform as a sensor, enabling the platform to identify, locate and respond to the jamming threat. A system integrator with an extensive history in communications, navigation and electronic warfare for aerospace and defense, Cobham delivers platform-calibrated systems for a number of U.S., UK and other military and security programs.
As part of a Multi-Domain Operation (MDO) equipment suite that is compatible with existing GE-ER aircraft, the DACU-8 capability provides assured positioning, navigation and timing (A-PNT) to the Gray Eagle ER UAS, weapons, and sensors. The low-cost, highly resilient modification to the Gray Eagle ER UAS ensures that the platform can provide reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) and attack capability even in a GPS-contested environment.
“When integrating a critical capability like anti-jam GPS, there are a lot of things that impact the performance versus a lab environment,” said Matt Cadwell, Cobham’s North America Sales Director. “Installation limitations, multipath and onboard interference just scratch the surface. Cobham approaches these challenges with a strong mentality. We want to own the performance of the system on your platform.
“Because we make the antenna and the anti-jam electronics, our DACU-8 system has a tightly integrated, calibrated capability that our customers simply can[t find elsewhere. Plus, due to our flexible system architecture, we can quickly adapt the calibration of the system over the life cycle of the platform, ensuring that the system continues to perform at optimal levels for years.”
The Gray Eagle can operate for 36 hours at altitudes up to 25,000 feet (7,600 m) with an operating range of 200 nautical miles (400 km). The Army has used earlier versions it in combat theater IIraq and Afghanistan) since 2010.
Caldwell concluded “GA-ASI and Cobham collaborated very closely on integration activities and on-platform performance evaluations to deliver cutting edge technology for the U.S. Army. Cobham is very proud to support GA-ASI’s leadership through the “survive, persist, and thrive” evolution in denied environments. The DACU-8 capability ensures GE-ER’s ability to persist in a contested environment, providing critical RSTA capability in a contested environment, supporting the Army as well as the joint force.”
In 2017 Cobham announced the launch of a four channel GPS Anti-Jam system which was compact and designed with the ability to retro-fit in space constrained platforms in mind. The company has since produced a family of anti-jam products, including an eight channel system, eight channel beam-steered system and the option for custom system developments.
A video accompanying the announcement is available here.
Gray Eagle in hangar, courtesy Cobham