GA-ASI Demonstrates Release of A2LE from MQ-20 Avenger UAS

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) successfully demonstrated an inflight release of its Advanced Air-Launched Effects (A2LE) platform, releasing an A2LE from the internal weapons bay of a GA-ASI MQ-20 Avenger® Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The demonstration occurred on November 28, 2023, over Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, capping a manufacturing, structural test, and flight demonstration.

GA-ASI’s design and engineering team partnered with Divergent Technologies, Inc. for the A2LE vehicle design and build, matching GA-ASI’s aircraft design expertise with the Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS™) to support rapid, low-cost manufacturing of the demonstration vehicle.

“This demonstration was a crucial first step in demonstrating GA-ASI’s ability to rapidly develop, manufacture, and test a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) in a controlled, low-risk approach,” said Mike Atwood, vice president of Advanced Programs at GA-ASI. “A2LE demonstrates the coupling of GA-ASI’s pedigreed aircraft design capabilities with Divergent’s DAPS, paving the way for continued maturation of affordable, modular SUAS platforms that can be tailored to meet warfighter needs at a fraction of the cost and lead time of currently fielded systems.”

The demonstration vehicle airframe was 100 percent additively manufactured and designed to meet the jet-powered aircraft’s captive carriage and ejection loads with internal weapons bays. Before the flight demonstration, the topology-optimized AM structure was validated via proof and pit ejection testing. The demonstration highlighted the design efficiencies realized when AM is incorporated early in the design process and throughout the vehicle. It was also a critical step in validating the AM process and material properties for incorporation in future systems to be employed by both manned and unmanned platforms.

GA-ASI’s A2LE platform builds on its extensive experience in developing SUAS. It provides a low-risk, low-cost, tailorable solution that brings affordable mass to the warfighter, with modular payload provisions to meet the requirements of current and future mission objectives. A network of A2LEs could create a persistent, expansive grid for surveillance, attack, enemy air defense suppression, or communication pathways, supporting and elevating capabilities of current and future manned or unmanned platforms.

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