GA-ASI integrates Legion Pod onto Avenger drone

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced on January 15 that it had completed a test flight of an Avenger remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) that had been fitted with Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod.

The recent 90-minute captive-carry test flight was conducted to verify the mechanical interface and safety of flight aerodynamics for the RPA when equipped with the new external pod. The company states that it took less than three months for the Legion Pod integration to move from a concept stage into a test flight campaign. More flights are scheduled to take place through 2021.

Avenger RPA [GA-ASI]
An Avenger RPA - operated by GA-ASI - conducts a captive-carry test flight with Lockheed Martin's Legion Pod infrared search and track (IRST) system. GA-ASI

JR Reid, vice president of Strategic Development at GA-ASI, said: “Our flight demonstration revealed the quick reaction capabilities of the Avenger RPA. From software and hardware architecture implementation to sensor integration, the Avenger is a great platform for delivering critical capabilities.”

Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod is an infrared search and track (IRST) system that comprises an IRST21 sensor and advanced processor to provide passive, high-fidelity detection and tracking capabilities for air-to-air targets in radar-denied environments. The system can also accommodate additional sensors, allowing it to serve as a simultaneous sensor suite and mitigating the need for costly aircraft or system modifications. The Legion Pod has so far been integrated on and is undergoing flight tests aboard Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon and Boeing’s F-15C Eagle multi-role fighters.

Kenen Nelson, director of Fixed Wing Sensor Programs at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division, added: “The successful integration of Legion Pod on the Avenger RPA is a testament to the flexibility of the Legion Pod system from a fighter aircraft to an unmanned aircraft, which means Legion Pod has proven its capabilities [and] can assist our warfighter and keep them ahead of threats.”