STARLite
Soldiers can now install STARLite A-Kits onto Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft systems while out in the field. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Project Director Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PD SAI) and Project Manager Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS) have partnered to update how Small Tactical Radar Lightweight (STARLite) A-Kits can be installed on the Gray Eagle platform, allowing the process to be performed by Soldiers for the first time.

An A-Kit is a one-time install of cables and ancillary equipment usually done at the factory as part of the production of the Gray Eagle. Since 2008, all STARLite A-Kits have only been installed by contractors at the original equipment manufacturer.

Over the past few years, STARLite systems have been destroyed due to platform mishaps and are no longer procurable due to Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and obsolescence. At the same time, the Gray Eagle platform has continued to receive funding for additional production of platforms without sensors including the STARLite system.

STARLite is a lightweight moving target indicator (MTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor that supports U.S. Army tactical operations. It is capable of real-time image acquisition and target detection, which is transmitted to a Universal Ground Control System (UGCS). STARLite’s ground and dismounted MTI capability provides the operator the ability to detect moving targets over a wide area for queuing and overall battlefield situational awareness.

“The capabilities provided by STARLite are still widely sought after by the Aviation community with U.S. Army Forces Command,” said Doug Haskin, Product Manager, Aerial Enhanced Radars, Optics, and Sensors (PM AEROS) of PD SAI. “This has led to funding being made available to procure additional A-Kits for the Gray Eagle platforms currently in the field. However, since the new Gray Eagles are already in the field, it is not possible to install the new A-Kits at the factory.”

After reviewing MQ-1 Gray Eagle UAS Maintainer abilities with the Directorate of Training and Doctrine within the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, it was determined Soldiers had the ability to install the A-Kit in the field with proper instructions and with no additional tools needed.

The new A-Kits are currently in production and scheduled to begin being delivered in January 2023.