General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, GA-ASI, operated its Predator C Avenger remotely piloted aircraft with its Advanced Cockpit ground control station as part of a congressionally directed demonstration, announced the company on Wednesday. “This flight paired our most advanced GCS with our most advanced aircraft,” said Frank Pace, president of the company’s Aircraft Systems Group, in the company’s April 24 release. The purpose of the flight, which took place back in November 2012 at the company’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., was to prove that the Advanced Cockpit’s open-system software architecture adapts quickly to supporting different RPAs, states the release. Already in recent years, the Advanced Cockpit controlled the company’s MQ-1 Predator and the third-party SARC-1 RPA. This summer, the company intends to fly its Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper with the Advanced Cockpit, states the release. “Advanced Cockpit’s wrap-around visual display and multi-dimensional moving map dramatically increases situational awareness, while the integrated digital checklist decreases pilot workload,” said Jason McDermott, the test pilot who controlled the Avenger during the demonstration. (See also Larger Avenger Flies for the First Time.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.