Predator, Reaper to undergo ground station upgrade

Contractor tackles third round of cockpit improvements

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. will furnish the Air Force with an open-architecture ground control system for its Predator and Reaper unmanned aircraft under a $26.6 million contract, reports Graham Warwick at Aviation Week.

The next-generation Block 50 Advanced cockpit will address issues with the human and proprietary interfaces in the current ground control system and accommodate future refinements such as multi-aircraft control, company officials said.

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GA-ASI expects to complete the development work by 2012, the officials said. At that point, the company will deliver new Predators and Reapers with the advanced cockpit and retrofit existing units to the Block 50 configuration, they said.

The terms of the agreement encourage the company to install advanced hardware and software into the ground control station’s modular open architecture during the upgrade. GA-ASI plans to allow third-party vendors to compete to provide those system components.

GA-ASI is on its third overhaul of the Advanced Cockpit since 2003, company officials said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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