Out in the sun-scorched testing grounds of Utah, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is flipping the script on drone warfare.

They’ve rolled out their latest ace, the Advanced Air-Launched Effects (A2LE) platform, a pint-sized powerhouse taking Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) to new heights.

This story isn’t just about a new drone; it’s about a leap into a future where the skies are swarmed by cost-effective, rapid-deployment SUAS, courtesy of a little digital magic.

Breaking Ground in the Digital Forge

Picture this: an MQ-20 Avenger, a hulking mass of tech and terror, unleashes the A2LE, a brainchild of digital craftsmanship.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill drone; it’s a testament to the marvels of additive manufacturing, or as most folks call it, 3D printing.

General Atomics isn’t just building drones; they’re printing them, layer by layer, in a dance of lasers and powder. And with Divergent Technologies riding shotgun, they’re churning out these birds faster, cheaper, and smarter.

Efficiency in the New Age

Down at Dugway, they put this printed phantom through its paces, a ballet of tests proving that this isn’t just another drone; it’s the future, air-dropped from an Avenger’s belly.

Mike Atwood, the man steering this ship, isn’t just blowing smoke; he’s proving that the future of SUAS is here, printed to perfection, and ready to roll out en masse.

This demonstration was a crucial first step in demonstrating GA-ASI’s ability to rapidly develop, manufacture, and test a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) in a controlled, low-risk approach,” Atwood noted in a statement, adding:

“A2LE demonstrates the coupling of GA-ASI’s pedigreed aircraft design capabilities with Divergent’s DAPS, paving the way for continued maturation of affordable, modular SUAS platforms that can be tailored to meet warfighter needs at a fraction of the cost and lead time of currently fielded systems.”

A Partnership Forged for the Future

Divergent Technologies isn’t just a name on paper; it’s the muscle behind the A2LE, a testament to the power of collaboration in the digital age.

They’re not just building drones; they’re redefining warfare, creating machines tailor-made for the mission without breaking the bank or the clock.

The A2LE Vision

But the A2LE isn’t just a solo act; it’s the vanguard of a swarm, a network of eyes, ears, and firepower blanketing the battlefield.

General Atomics is thinking big, envisioning a sky teeming with these digital denizens, each a cog in a vast machine of surveillance, suppression, and strike capabilities, all networked into a seamless grid of air power.

“General Atomics has been approaching the future of uninhabited aerial vehicles and systems from a ‘family of systems’ approach,” spokesman C. Mark Brinkley told C4ISRNET. “Whether air-launched or ground-launched, recoverable or expendable, we see these aircraft as offering different options configured for different missions.”

equipped with A2LE
Successful release demonstration of A2LE from MQ-20 Avenger UAS, November 28, 2023. (Image source: GA-ASI)

Innovation as a Creed

The A2LE isn’t General Atomics’ only trick.

Eaglet, Sparrowhawk, LongShot – they’re all part of the family, each with its own role in this aerial arsenal.

It’s a culture of innovation, a relentless drive to refine, iterate, and outdo, turning lessons into legacies and blueprints into battle-ready tech.

In the dust of Dugway, something more than a drone was born.

It’s a vision of the future, a promise of a battlefield where the skies are alive with the buzz of SUAS, each a product of digital craft and collaborative spirit.

General Atomics isn’t just making drones; they’re crafting a new paradigm in warfare where agility, speed, and innovation rule the skies.

And as the sun sets on the testing grounds, one thing’s clear: the future of drone warfare isn’t on the horizon; it’s already here, printed and poised for action.