GA-GASI Launches 3D Printed Advanced Air Effects Platform

22 February 2024
advanced air effects platform

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) recently achieved a significant milestone with its MQ-20 Avenger unmanned air vehicle, conducting the in-flight release of an Advanced Air-Launched Effects (A2LE) platform. This groundbreaking event, which took place at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah on November 28, 2023, showcases GA-ASI’s commitment to innovation and cutting-edge technology.

The A2LE demonstration vehicle, a product of additive manufacturing, underscores GA-ASI’s strategic collaboration with Divergent Technologies. The partnership enabled the rapid and cost-effective production of the A2LE demonstration vehicle, highlighting GA-ASI’s capability to develop, manufacture, and test small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) in a controlled, low-risk environment.

Mike Atwood, Vice President of Advanced Programs at GA-ASI, emphasized the importance of this demonstration as a crucial first step. “A2LE demonstrates the coupling of GA-ASI’s pedigreed aircraft design capabilities with Divergent’s Adaptive Production System, paving the way for continued maturation of affordable, modular SUAS platforms,” Atwood stated.

advanced air effects platform
Image: GA- ASI

Additive Defense Production

The 100% additive manufacturing process of the A2LE demonstration vehicle proved its effectiveness, meeting the captive carriage and ejection loads of the MQ-20’s weapons bay. This achievement not only showcases the technical prowess of GA-ASI but also highlights the efficiencies gained by incorporating additive manufacturing early in the design process.

Looking ahead, GA-ASI envisions the deployment of large numbers of air-launched effects as essential tools in future warfare. The A2LEs could establish a persistent, expansive grid for various purposes, including surveillance, attack, enemy air defense suppression, and communication pathways. This approach supports and enhances the capabilities of both current and future manned or unmanned platforms.

Divergent Technologies, GA-ASI’s collaborator in this venture, specializes in helping companies in the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries automatically assemble complex structures. Their expertise played a crucial role in the success of this milestone achievement, paving the way for advancements in the field of unmanned aerial systems.

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