Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) major General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has unveiled a new UAS that has the capacity to strap 16 Hellfire or equivalent missiles under its wings.
The company said the UAS will be called Mojave, for one of the harshest and most austere areas the world, “where deadly rattlesnakes and horned lizards adapt to survive the extreme forces of nature.”
The new product is similar in appearance to other UAS offered by the company. GA-ASI itself said the Mojave was based on the avionics and flight control systems of MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle-ER, “but focused on short-takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities and increased firepower.”
It features enlarged wings with high-lift devices, and a 450-HP turboprop engine.
According to the company, Mojave can land and takeoff from unimproved surfaces while also retaining advantages in endurance and persistence over manned aircraft. These qualities position the Mojave as a solution for armed overwatch, attack and armed reconnaissance missions.
GA-ASI has even hinted at the possibility of the Mojave UAS operating from aircraft carriers thanks to its STOL capability. As noted, this could unlock naval missions or sea-based support for special operations forces.
A prototype aircraft first flew this summer and is continuing to demonstrate short-field performance and other qualities.
“We’re proud to bring these extraordinary capabilities to our Predator line of UAS,” said GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue. “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 7 million flight hours of UAS experience, increases expeditionary employment options – making Mojave a real game changer.”
Mojave’s payload capacity is 3,600 lb. (1,633 kg), allowing it to be equipped with a sensor suite including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) and signal intelligence (SIGINT) to support land or maritime missions.