General Atomics Awards Hughes Contract To Produce Modems For MQ-1C Gray Eagles – April 9

Hughes Network Systems this week said it has received a production contract from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to provide ruggedized modems for the MQ-1 Gray Eagle 25M unmanned aircraft system, providing warfighters with more options to operate the aircraft using satellite communications.

The value of the award was not disclosed. Production will likely entail between 100 and 200 modems, although final numbers will depend on retrofits, Rick Lober, vice president and general manager for Defense and Intelligence Systems, told Defense Daily on Monday.

Hughes, a business of EchoStar, will supply its HM400T modem, which operates on both the higher throughput Ka-band, which can operate over the Defense Department’s Wideband Global Satellite, and the lower frequency Ku-band, which operates on commercial satellites.

The current modems on the Gray Eagles are supplied by L3Harris Technologies and operate in the Ku-band. L3Harris will be doing antenna modifications for the Gray Eagles.

The MQ-1C is used for strike, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

The HM400T in the future may allow operators to use communications satellites in medium Earth orbit, Lober said. Currently, satellites operating in geosynchronous orbits connect ground operators with Gray Eagles. The advanced modem also integrates with DoD’s standard Enhanced Bandwidth Efficient Modulation waveform, which provides more interoperability with ground stations, and transmission security features, Hughes said.

Lober said that the new modem will also give operators faster acquisition times if contact is lost between the satellite and aircraft to a steep banking maneuver.

A version of this story originally appeared in affiliate publication Defense Daily.

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