General Atomics has performed the inaugural flight test of a 200HP heavy fuel engine using a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft in an effort to demonstrate its suitability to replace the existing engine that powers the extended-range model of the U.S. Army’s drone.
The company said Thursday its aeronautical and electromagnetic systems divisions co-developed the HFE 2.0’s dual brushless generators to generate a more than 50 percent boost from the electrical power capacity of the 180HP engine currently for the aircraft.
HFE 2.0 was also designed for minimal field maintenance, with engine replacement time extended by 40 percent compared to the current engine.
General Atomics’ European entity and propulsion technology developer Cosworth were tapped to assist in the engine’s production.
The initial flight test was held at the El Mirage facility of General Atomics May 9. More flight tests will be carried out and qualification testing is scheduled to commence later this year.