First Company of Gray Eagles Deploys to Afghanistan

: The first full company of 12 MQ-1C Gray Eagle remotely piloted aircraft, the Army’s derivative of the Air Force’s Predator RPA, is in Afghanistan, announced manufacturer Global Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The Gray Eagle “is providing unprecedented value to the operators,” said Richard Kretzschmar, the Army’s deputy RPA project manager, in the company’s release. Feedback from operators is that “this is a game-changing capability,” he said. The Gray Eagle is designed for long-endurance surveillance, relaying communications, and striking ground targets. It has double the weapons capacity of the Predator, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. To date, the company has delivered 61 Gray Eagles to the Army, with another 44 on order. Prior to this deployment, the Army sent two groups of four MQ-1Cs each to Afghanistan under quick-reaction-capability initiatives to get this technology into the hands of soldiers more quickly, states the company’s June 25 release. (See also Army release.)