General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ (GA-ASI) Advanced Cockpit Block 50 Ground Control Station (GCS) has completed the critical design review, marking a key milestone in fielding advanced capabilities for the US Air Force (USAF).
The company’s Block 50 GCS is being designed for use with remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems such as the Predator and Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper.
GA-ASI Aircraft Systems president David R Alexander said: "Our Block 50 team is proud of the development effort that addressed more than 700 customer requirements covering all areas of GCS performance.
"The Block 50 GCS CDR marks the successful completion of requirements established by our Air Force customer."
Under the current development contract between GA-ASI and the USAF, three Block 50 GCS have been completed and are undergoing initial developmental testing, with four additional ground stations in work to include mobile shelter and fixed facility configurations.
The Cockpit Evaluation Team comprising the USAF pilots and sensor operators has designed the Block 50's human machine interface (HMI), with an aim to reduce pilot and operator workload.
The Block 50 architecture facilitates quicker integration, testing, and fielding of new payloads, in addition to replacing different components without disturbing the overall design. This will help the USAF to avoid costs of Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages.
GA-ASI has designed Block 50 for single seat operations that can reduce manpower at the user's discretion.
With complete 'Hands on Throttle and Stick' for flight, weapons, payload, and sensor system control, aircrew situational awareness is improved with a Common Operational Picture on a single display, according to the company.
Image: MQ-9 Reaper. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force photo/Staff Sergeant Brian Ferguson.