General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully completed multiple successful take-offs and landings with its Mojave uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) on a dirt strip near El Mirage, California.
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Tracing its lineage from the MQ-1C Gray Eagle and MQ-9 Reaper, Mojave is a technical demonstrator with short take-off and landing (STOL) capability, making it a versatile expeditionary uncrewed autonomous system.
The ability to take off and land on unimproved surfaces demonstrates Mojave’s departure from traditional fixed-wing aircraft’s dependance on prepared runways, with this new capability providing greater versatility and allows the aircraft to operate in areas previously deemed unsuitable for UAS operations.
GA-ASI president David Alexander said, “Being able to execute missions in austere locations with runway independence opens the operational envelope for commanders across all services and geographic locations.”
The flight tests were the first-ever STOL on a dirt surface for Mojave, demonstrating the capacity to conduct take-offs in as little as 178.61 metres (586 feet) and short landings successfully completed in as little as 102.1 metres (335 feet) with the tests primarily focused on gathering terrain feedback using Mojave, not achieving the shortest distances possible.
“Mojave can do this while retaining significant advantages in endurance and persistence over vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and manned aircraft,” Alexander added.
Mojave provides options for forward-basing operations without the need for typical airport runways or infrastructure so it can be rapidly deployed from and recovered to non-traditional discrete locations. Mojave can do this while retaining significant advantages in endurance and persistence over VTOL and manned aircraft.
To extend operational reach, Mojave can fit into a C-130 and be rapidly assembled and employed. These innovations make Mojave the perfect UAS to perform reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, attack, and contested logistics support missions.
The Mojave platform is designed to be rapidly deployable and expeditionary. Mojave’s tailored features include a ruggedised airframe that enables operations in austere conditions and weatherisation that enables flight in wider environmental windows.
Mojave incorporates robust wing storage meaning it can carry up to 16 Hellfire or equivalent missiles, assorted munitions, launched effects, or logistical resupply pods. Additionally, the Mojave can provide greater operational flexibility while still being equipped with a multi-sensor suite that includes electro-optical/infrared, synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator, electronic intelligence, and signals intelligence to support land or maritime missions throughout Joint All-Domain Operations.