General Atomics said on Dec. 9 that it has debuted a new drone, called Mojave, that is to be capable of short take-off and landing (STOL) in 400 to 600 feet and to have a carriage of up to 16 Lockheed Martin [LMT] Hellfire missiles or similar munitions.
The company believes the Mojave may find a place in U.S. Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch program. Mojave, if proven out, also would fit in with the U.S. Air Force’s vision of buying more and relying more on less costly unmanned, autonomous systems to speed decision making and targeting. Mojave also fits with what the Air Force has said will be a need to operate from austere locations without fixed runways or infrastructure.
“Mojave is based on the avionics and flight control systems of MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle-ER but is focused on [STOL] capabilities and increased firepower,” General Atomics said. “It features enlarged wings with high-lift devices, and a 450-HP turboprop engine.”
General Atomics said that Mojave’s STOL capability from unimproved surfaces and its “significant advantages in endurance and persistence over manned aircraft” make the drone “the perfect UAS to perform armed overwatch, attack and armed reconnaissance missions.”
The company said that a Mojave prototype flew last summer. General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc. CEO Linden Blue said in a statement that the company is 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,” he said
Mojave is to have a payload capacity of 3,600 pounds and to be able to carry a variety of electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensors to support land or maritime missions.