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General Atomics Sea Avenger

The hooked Avenger

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) announced May 3 at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space Exposition that it is developing a carrier-capable version of its Predator C Avenger UAS called the Sea Avenger. The Sea Avenger was formally proposed to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) via a Request for Information (RFI) submitted on April 30.

The Sea Avenger is intended to fill an anticipated U.S. Navy “…need for an unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) system,” according to a General Atomics release that coincided with the announcement.

“Sea Avenger fulfills the Navy’s need for a carrier-based unmanned aircraft system that offers long-endurance, proven ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and precision-strike capabilities,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI.

Sea Avenger

Artist’s conception of General Atomics’ Sea Avenger concept, a possible contender for the UCLASS requirement. General Atomics image

According to GA-ASI, the company deliberately designed specific features into its Predator C Avenger “to facilitate subsequent development of an

aircraft uniquely suitable for carrier operations that would also integrate seamlessly into the carrier air wing. These include a highly fuel-efficient engine and inlet design, retractable electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, internal weapons bay, and folding wings. The aircraft’s structure was also designed with the flexibility to accommodate carrier suitable landing gear, tail hook, drag devices, and other provisions for carrier operations.”

Predator C Avenger, developed with company funds in anticipation of near-term military needs, is 44 feet long with a 66-foot wingspan, and can fly at 400 knots for up to 20 hours at an operational ceiling of 50,000 feet.

With Northrop Grumman’s X-47 UCAS-D set to undergo carrier suitability testing this year, GA-ASI’s announcement comes at the right time to place the company in position with a system to offer should UCAS-D testing go well and the Navy decide to move ahead with putting UCAVs aboard carriers.