The US Army has awarded a $214 million contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of San Diego, California, for system development and demonstration of the Extended Range Multi Purpose (ERMP) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system.
According to a statement, the ERMP UAV, which has been named the “Warrior,” is a key component of the Army’s aviation restructuring strategy. This contract award was facilitated by the reinvestment of dollars from the cancelled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, and directly supports the Army’s aviation modernisation plan.
The Warrior will have the longest range of any UAV system in the Army, and its diesel-powered air vehicle will eliminate the logistical need for a special fuel on the battlefield.
The air vehicle will be capable of loitering over enemy territories for 36 hours at altitudes up to 25,000 feet while executing missions such as reconnaissance, communications relay and attack with multiple on-board weapons.
Warrior’s network connectivity will reduce the sensor-to-shooter time to better suppress enemy threats. Warrior also will include an automatic takeoff and landing system and control via satellite communication and the Tactical Common Data Link.
The Army intends to procure 11 Warrior systems, each with 12 aerial vehicles, five ground control stations and other support equipment such as ground data terminals, spares, and Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals that are required to test and field a complete system.
The Warrior’s system development and demonstration phase is expected to last approximately 48 months. Initial Operational Capability is expected in fiscal year 2009. Total program cost is expected to be approximately $1 billion.