Wednesday, April 24, 2024

US Army taps Raytheon for Gray Eagle’s advanced sensors

The U.S. Army announced that it has finalized a $118 million contract with Raytheon, an RTX business, to procure cutting-edge Common Sensor Payload version 3 (CSP v3) systems for its MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

Designed to serve as the “eyes” of the Gray Eagle drones, the CSP v3 offers high-definition imagery capabilities for both day and night operations, along with targeting features crucial for laser-guided munitions deployment, including the air-to-ground AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. With over one million flight hours accumulated on previous CSP versions since achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2011, the CSP v3 represents a crucial advancement in aerial intelligence capabilities for Army units.

Managed by the Product Manager for Aerial Enhanced Radars, Optics, and Sensors (PdM AEROS), the CSP v3 production UCA underscores a collaborative effort between multiple Army units, including the Project Director Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PD SAI) under the Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S), and the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground (ACC-APG).

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The decision to pursue a UCA for CSP v3 procurement was driven by the need to align delivery timelines with the acquisition of modernized MQ-1C-25M Gray Eagle systems.

“The CSP v3 is the latest iteration of the CSP, which resolves several critical subcomponent obsolescence issues present on the currently fielded CSP v2 and incorporates updated sensor hardware to provide enhanced imaging capabilities,” said Doug Haskin, PdM AEROS.

A key feature of the CSP v3 is its Target Location Accuracy (TLA) capability, which facilitates precision engagements with Coordinate Seeking Weapons (CSWs) in near-real time. Unlike laser-guided munitions, which require a steady laser spot until impact, CSWs are “fire-and-forget” weapons that navigate to designated coordinates using internal navigation sources.

Scheduled on-platform testing of a CSP v3 prototype on a MQ-1C Gray Eagle is slated for April to May 2024, marking a critical phase in evaluating the payload’s performance and TLA capabilities.

The CSP v3 production systems are expected to begin delivering in June 2025, with a first unit equipped date planned for Fiscal Year 2026.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more

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