General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has unveiled a new unmanned aircraft system called Mojave.
The US manufacturer, which revealed the Mojave in a press briefing on December 8, said it is based on the avionics and flight control systems of the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle-ER but is focused on short-take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities and increased firepower.
It features enlarged wings with high-lift devices (leading-edge slats and double-slotted flaps) and a more powerful 450hp Rolls-Royce M250 turboprop engine. Payload capacity is 3,600lbs (1,633 kg) and Mojave can carry up to 16 Hellfire or equivalent missiles on six underwing hardpoints. There is also a centreline hardpoint. It can 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) payloads to support either land or maritime missions.
GA-ASI says that Mojave provides options for forward-basing operations without the need for typical airport runways or infrastructure. It can land and take off from unimproved surfaces while also retaining significant advantages in endurance and persistence over manned aircraft. These innovations make Mojave the perfect UAS to perform armed overwatch, attack and armed reconnaissance missions, says the company.
A prototype aircraft first flew this summer but has been kept under wraps until now. GA-ASI states that it is continuing to demonstrate exceptional short-field performance and other unique qualities. The company notes that the STOL capability increases the number of employment options available to Mojave, potentially including aircraft carrier-based options, unlocking naval missions or sea-based support for special operations forces.
GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said: “We’re proud to bring these extraordinary capabilities to our Predator line of UAS. 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.”