n August 2005, “Team Warrior” leader General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. in San Diego, CA won a $214.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for research, development, test and evaluation of the Extended Range/ Multi Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System (ER/MP UAS), beating the Hunter II offered by Northrop Grumman, Aurora Flight Systems, and IAI. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc’s “Team Warrior” partners include AAI Corporation (One System ground control equipment) and SPARTA, Inc. (extensive logistics support services).
This contract award was facilitated by the reinvestment of dollars from the canceled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, and directly supports the Army’s Aviation Modernization Plan. The program could be worth up to $1 billion, and recently strengthened its position when its potential competitors In the Future Combat Systems Class III UAV competition were cut in a restructuring. Now, in FY 2008, the Warrior ERMP prepares to move into production…
Enter the Warrior
MQ-1 fires Hellfire
The selected ERMP UAV System is named Warrior, and leverages technologies from General Atomics’ famous R/MQ-1 Predator UAV (as do the Altair high-altitude and Mariner long-range maritime surveillance UAVs). Army Warriors will be configured to fly autonomously, and will include an automatic takeoff and landing system to reduce accidents; more manual control will be possible via satellite communication, and the Tactical Common Data Link.
The Warrior is intended to have the longest range of any UAV system in the U.S. Army, and its diesel-powered engine will eliminate the logistical need for special fuels on the battlefield. The air vehicle will be capable of loitering over enemy territories for 36 hours at altitudes up to 25,000 feet, executing missions such as reconnaissance, communications, information relay, and attack with up to 4 on-board weapons (Hellfire II missiles or Viper Strike BATs). This weapon load places it somewhere between the USAF’s MQ-1 Predator (2 weapons) and new MQ-9 Reaper (6 weapon stations, 3,000 pound payload capacity, up to 14 Hellfires).
Company: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
Span: 56 feet
Length: 28 feet
Gross takeoff weight: 3,000 pounds
Internal payload capacity: 300 pounds
External payload capacity: 500 pounds
Altitude: 29,000 feet
Endurance: 30+ hours
Maximum air speed: 150 knots
AAI’s One SystemÂ® ground control station is designed to be compatible and interoperable with multiple unmanned aircraft systems in AAI’s stable and beyond, including the aptly-named RQ-2 Pioneer, RQ-5 Hunter, the RQ-7 Shadow TUAS, the Class IV RQ-8 Fire Scout helicopter UAV, the Eagle Eye VTUAV tilt-rotor, the Warrior ERMP, and the long-endurance Aerosonde. One SystemÂ® design complies with the emerging NATO STANAG 4586 for standard interfaces of UAV control systems, and features a modular design based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, redundant hardware, and a UNIX-based operating system.
The Warrior Program
RQ-5A Hunter: to be replaced
The Warrior’s system development and demonstration (SD&D) phase is expected to last approximately 48 months, with initial Operational Capability expected in FY 2009.
These Warrior UAVs are eventually intended to replace the RQ-5A Hunter UAVs currently in service. Indeed, its rival in the ERMP competition was Northrop Grumman’s Hunter II UAV, a collaborative effort with Aurora Flight Sciences that incorporated aspects of Israel Aircraft Industries’ E-Hunter and Heron UAV designs.
In the immediate term, some RQ-5A Hunters will be replaced with or upgraded to upgraded and enlarged multi-mission RQ-5B models during Warrior’s SD&D phase to keep them current. Like the Warrior, the new R/MQ-5Bs are also designed to run on diesel fuel, which is more available than the motor gasoline or aviation gasoline fuel currently used by the RQ-5A. Diesel fuel will also allow the RQ-5B Hunter and Warrior UAVs to climb faster and operate at higher operational altitudes, while reducing fuel consumption.
The Army ultimately intends to procure 11 Warrior systems, each with 12 aerial vehicles (so 121 total), 5 ground control stations (so 55 total) and other support equipment such as ground data terminals, spares, and Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals that are required to test and field a complete system. Total program cost is expected to be approximately $1 billion.
The FY 2008 budget request begins the Warrior program’s transition from system development to production. The budget request is $163.7 million, and includes 12 ER/MP Warrior UAVs ($118.5 million procurement) plus $45.2 million for RDT&E. This compares to FY 2007 budget figures of $9.4 million for procurement and $120.9 million for research, development, testing & evaluation.