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A new unmanned aircraft vehicle is designed for special operations in dangerous environments. General Atomics has unveiled Mojave UAV, named for one of the harshest and most austere areas in the world.
The UAV is 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.
Mojave can carry up to 16 Hellfire or equivalent missiles. Mojave 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) to support land or maritime missions. Payload capacity is 3,600 lb. (1,633 kg).
The UAV features enlarged wings with high-lift devices, and a 450-HP turboprop engine. Mojave provides options for forward-basing operations without the need for typical airport runways or infrastructure. It can land and takeoff from unimproved surfaces while also retaining significant advantages in endurance and persistence over manned aircraft.
These innovations make Mojave suitable for performing armed overwatch, attack and armed reconnaissance missions, according to the company announcement.
A prototype aircraft first flew this summer and is continuing to demonstrate exceptional short-field performance and other unique qualities.
The UAV is expected to provide the ground force with a long-endurance, armed overwatch capabilities that can quickly reload weapons at austere sites, located close to the conflict zone.
The company’s Predator-series UAS have evolved since their support of the U.S. war effort following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 to become not only a critical provider of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), but also provide kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities to neutralize threats and achieve overmatch.
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.