General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has unveiled a new uncrewed aerial system (UAS) designed to operate from short and austere runways.
The Mojave – named after the high desert of southern California where GA-ASI’s flight test centre is located – is based on the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle-ER systems, but has a short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability through the use of a larger and higher-mounted wing with high-lift devices, ruggedised landing gear, and a more powerful 450hp engine.
The company says the Mojave is suited to operations from a forward-base without more established runways or infrastructure. The company has flown a prototype of the system which it says has successfully demonstrated its STOL capability.
“We’re proud to bring these extraordinary capabilities to our Predator line of UAS,” GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said in a company release. “We are providing the ground force with a long-endurance, armed overwatch UAS that can quickly reload weapons at austere sites, located close to the conflict zone.
“This revolutionary design, based on seven million flight hours of UAS experience, increases expeditionary employment options – making Mojave a real game changer,” he added.
The company says the Mojave’s STOL capabilities also raises the possibility of employed the system from aircraft carriers or LHD/LHA large-deck amphibious vessels.
The system has a payload capacity of 3,600lb, comprising up to 16 AGM-114 Hellfire anti-armour missiles, or a sensor suite comprising electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI), and signal intelligence (SIGINT) payloads for land or maritime missions.