General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) knows that some aircraft are better off without human pilots. The company is a designer and manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) with names like Predator, Avenger, and Gray Eagle, as well as airborne intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) sensor systems, including the Lynx multi-function radar and the Highlighter sensor for detecting improvised explosive devices. The company also manufactures solid-state digital ground control stations and provides RPA training and field operations support services. Additionally, it is developing lasers for range-finding and marking targets. GA-ASI is an affiliate of privately held General Atomics.
GA-ASI has a number of facilities in the San Diego area and in the Mojave Desert. In 2015, the company opened an office in Abu Dhabi to support its Middle East and North African (MENA) customers.
The company committed to providing immediately deployable, transformational technology for military operations and weapons systems, as well as for civil missions.
GA-ASI's Aircraft Systems business unit is a leading designer and manufacturer of RPA systems, including Predator A, Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, Gray Eagle, the new Predator C Avenger, and Predator XP. It also manufactures a variety of state-of-the-art digital GCS, including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations.
The Mission Systems business unit designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx Multi-mode Radar and the highly sophisticated Claw sensor payload control and image analysis software on to both manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft. It also integrates other sensor and communication equipment into manned ISR aircraft and develops emerging technologies in solid-state lasers, electro-optical sensors, and ultra-wideband data links for government applications.
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GA-ASI provides comprehensive products and services for military and commercial applications worldwide.
Demand for RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft) is on the upswing given the latest defense spending trends. The US Department of Defense announced that it is refocusing funding from combat warfare equipment to unmanned systems, advanced sensors, and other high-tech systems that support the US and its allies' ongoing military activities in the Middle East. Funding is being channeled toward products that boost the military's speed, flexibility, precision, and responsiveness. Based on this trend, forecasts estimate that the RPA market will double in the next 10 years.
GA-ASI's flagship product, the Predator, was named by Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine as one of the top ten aircraft that changed the world. It is one of the most combat-proven RPA and is currently used in Afghanistan to pick up enemy communications and transmit video feeds to ground troops and operations centers on the other side of the globe.
In general, the company's RPAs are less expensive to operate than manned aircraft and are able to remain in the air for longer periods of time. Other advantages include the fact its RPAs are versatile -- they can be outfitted with missiles, turning them from drones into combat aircraft. These attributes make the aircraft highly attractive to the foreign and domestic agencies that use them, including the US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, NASA, the UK Royal Air Force, and the Italian Air Force.
Not just for war zones or military applications, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are also being used to monitor borders, piracy on the high seas, and natural and man-made disasters. US Customs and Border Protection is using the Predator B RPA to patrol the US-Canadian border.