In California’s High Desert region, straddled between Palmdale and Victorville, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has been developing what could become the U.S. Navy’s first large, carrier-based UAV. A World War II-era Army airfield and former McDonnell Douglas radar cross-section test facility, Gray Butte is one of two local flight operations centers where GA-ASI develops and tests its latest products; the other is nearby El Mirage Field. A dry, isolated place, ...

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