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Hughes to Build Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

By Abbey Weltman | April 8, 2024

      The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft. Photo: GA-ASI

      Hughes Network Systems was awarded a production contract from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) company, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) to produce a satellite communications system for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle 25M UAS. 

      Under the contract, Hughes will provide ruggedized HM400 modems called the HM400T. The modems aim to integrate with the DoD’s Enhanced Bandwidth Efficient Modulation (EBEM) waveform technology and transmission security (TRANSEC) features in the Gray Eagle 25M’s Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR) mission requirements. 

      The HM400T modems utilize technology from the HM400 modem operating on the GA-ASI MQ-9B UAS. The HM400T incorporates a ruggedized container for high altitude applications, meets low size, weight and power requirements, and supports government approved waveforms to ensure ISR transmissions for the U.S. Army’s Gray Eagle 25M, MQ-1C, UAS and its long-endurance missions. 

      Vice President and General Manager of the Defense and Government Systems Division at Hughes, Rick Lober, said Hughes plans to support GA-ASI with communication architecture that will meet the “next level” of mission requirements. Lober said “this production contract reinforces the commitment of Hughes to serving GA-ASI and, by extension, the U.S. Army and this program of record, ensuring enhanced communications and ISR capabilities for today’s multi-domain operations.”

      This UAS will support the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army National Guard operations and help fill the growing Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting and Attack (RSTA) gap. After completing the development phase, GA-ASI awarded Hughes the initial production units; Hughes will start delivering these communications systems in the Spring.