June 18, 2007 Resurrecting a great name from the 1950s, General Atomics have completed the maiden flight of their Sky Warrior Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). While the original, built by Douglas, was known for being the largest and heaviest "whale" of a bomber to take-off and land on aircraft carriers, the new Sky Warrior will operate as an unmanned long range surveillance, communications and weapons delivery drone. Able to run happily on diesel or jet fuel due to its Heavy Fuel Engine, the Sky Warrior will form a key part of the U.S. Army's Extended Range/Multi Purpose Unmanned Aircraft system.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc, best known for their Predator UAV and tactical reconnaissance radars, has announced that the first Sky Warrior aircraft flew successfully from the El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, Calif., on June 6. The Block 0 aircraft completed all stated objectives for its maiden flight.
“We are very pleased with Sky Warrior’s flawless performance on its first flight,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems “Its success credits the remarkable talents of our many dedicated Team Warrior professionals and marks an important step in our commitment to provide the U.S. Army with this most capable combat aircraft. Sky Warrior aircraft will play a key role supporting Army forces worldwide for years to come.”
The flight marked an important milestone in the successful execution of Global Atomics' multi-year contract for the U.S. Army’s Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Program. Built in essentially the same configuration as the Sky Warrior UAS being developed for the ER/MP Program, additional Sky Warrior Block 0 aircraft will be produced to demonstrate the maturity of the technology being incorporated into the program. These aircraft will deploy to Southwest Asia early next year to showcase the capability of the design to support the development phase of ER/MP. The deployment will also provide an accelerated capability of the program to support deployed Army combat troops.
A derivative of the combat-proven Predator, the innovative and technologically sophisticated Sky Warrior aircraft provides the U.S. Army with a reliable and affordable solution to meet challenging Army requirements for persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and tactical strike operations. The aircraft will perform long-endurance, surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions with double the weapons capacity of Predator.
Featuring a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) for increased supportability in the field, Sky Warrior can fly above 29,000 feet on jet or diesel fuel with increased horsepower and significantly improved fuel efficiency. The HFE power plant also reduces maintenance costs, offers increased service life and greatly simplifies logistics by ensuring a more readily available fuel source. The aircraft is also equipped with triple redundant avionics, redundant flight controls/surfaces, and electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads.