SAN DIEGO – 01 February 2024 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) successfully demonstrated an inflight release of its Advanced Air-Launched Effects (A2LE) platform, releasing an A2LE from the internal weapons bay of a GA-ASI MQ-20 Avenger® Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The demonstration took place on Nov. 28, 2023, over Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, capping a manufacturing, structural test, and flight demonstration.
GA-ASI’s design and engineering team partnered with Divergent Technologies, Inc. for the A2LE vehicle design and build, matching GA-ASI’s aircraft design expertise with the Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS™) to support rapid, low-cost manufacturing of the demonstration vehicle.
“This demonstration was a crucial first step in demonstrating GA-ASI’s ability to rapidly develop, manufacture, and test a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) in a controlled, low-risk approach,” said Mike Atwood, vice president of Advanced Programs at GA-ASI. “A2LE demonstrates the coupling of GA-ASI’s pedigreed aircraft design capabilities with Divergent’s DAPS, paving the way for continued maturation of affordable, modular SUAS platforms that can be tailored to meet warfighter needs at a fraction of the cost and lead time of currently fielded systems.”
The demonstration vehicle airframe was 100 percent additively manufactured and was designed to meet the captive carriage and ejection loads of the jet-powered aircraft with internal weapons bays. The topology-optimized AM structure was validated via proof and pit ejection testing prior to the flight demonstration. The demonstration highlighted the design efficiencies that can be realized when AM is incorporated early in the design process and throughout the vehicle. It was also a key step in validating the AM process and material properties for incorporation in future systems to be employed by both manned and unmanned platforms.
GA-ASI’s A2LE platform builds on its extensive experience in developing SUAS. It provides a low-risk, low-cost, tailorable solution that bring affordable mass to the warfighter, with modular payload provisions to meet the requirements of current and future mission objectives. A network of A2LEs could create a persistent, expansive grid for surveillance, attack, enemy air defense suppression, or communication pathways, supporting and elevating capabilities of current and future manned or unmanned platforms.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPA systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. With more than eight million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent situational awareness. The company also produces a variety of sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas.
For more information, visit www.ga-asi.com
Avenger, Lynx, Predator, SeaGuardian, and SkyGuardian are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Divergent Technologies, Inc. (Divergent) has created the world’s first end-to-end software-hardware production system for industrial digital manufacturing – the Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS™) – allowing customers to design, additively manufacture, and automatically assemble complex structures for automotive, aerospace, and defense applications. With maturity equivalent to TRL 9 in automotive, DAPS transforms the economics, speed, and scalability of defense vehicle manufacturing by optimizing designs, dematerializing structures, and eliminating upfront capex. For more information, please visit www.divergent3d.com.