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The Mojave drone of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) can now successfully both take off and land on a dirt surface, widening their range of operations. The drone is part of the Predator-series family of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) firm meant for armed overwatch, attack, and armed reconnaissance missions. GA-ASI began its UAS journey 25 years ago, and its current fleet of drones claims to have completed over 7 million hours of operation, much of them in combat.
The Mojave’s ability to take off and land on unpaved surfaces distinguishes it from typical fixed-wing aircraft that rely on established runways, meaning it can take off and land from remote areas while piloted from a typical ground control station or control laptop system.
According to Interesting Engineering, the Mojave was able to take off in as little as 180 meters and complete harsh landings as low as 102 meters. GA-ASI state that this capacity increases the drone’s adaptability and allows it to operate in previously judged unsuitable locations for UAS missions.
GA-ASI President David R. Alexander said in a blog post “Mojave can do this while retaining significant advantages in endurance and persistence over Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) and human-crewed aircraft.”
Mojave features enormous wings with high-lift devices, a combat-proven 450-HP turbine engine, and ruggedized landing gear, making it excellent for semi-improved conditions with little ground assistance. It also uses GA-ASI’s Grey Eagle 25M program’s modernized avionics, data linkages, sensor integration, and laptop ground control station.
All of these capabilities mean the drone can be used for operations that don’t require regular airport runways or infrastructure and can be swiftly deployed from and recovered to non-traditional discrete sites.
According to the company, “Mojave can fit into a C-130 (plane) and be rapidly assembled and employed to extend operational reach. These innovations make Mojave the perfect UAS to perform reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA), attack, and contested logistics support missions.”