General Atomics Mojave STOL UAS Completes First Dirt Operation

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  • 05:12 AM, August 4, 2023
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General Atomics Mojave STOL UAS Completes First Dirt Operation

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has completed multiple successful takeoffs and landings with its Mojave Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) on a dirt strip near El Mirage, Calif.

The ability to take off and land on unimproved surfaces demonstrates Mojave’s departure from traditional fixed-wing aircraft’s dependance on prepared runways. This new capability provides greater versatility and allows the aircraft to operate in areas previously deemed unsuitable for UAS operations.

The flight tests were the first-ever Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) on a dirt surface for Mojave. Takeoffs were performed in as little as 586 feet; and short landings were completed in as little as 335 feet. The tests were primarily focused on gathering terrain feedback using Mojave, not achieving the shortest distances possible.

Tracing its lineage from the MQ-1C Gray Eagle and MQ-9 Reaper, Mojave is a technical demonstrator with STOL capability, making it a versatile expeditionary UAS. Adhering to Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) principles, Mojave leverages the modernized avionics, data links, sensor integration, and laptop ground control station of GA-ASI’s Gray Eagle 25M program. These features – along with Mojave’s enlarged wings with high-lift devices, 450-HP turbine engine, and landing gear – make it suitable for semi-improved surfaces with a small ground support footprint.

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. 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 (RSTA), attack, and contested logistics support missions.

Mojave’s airframe that enables operations in austere conditions and weatherization that enables flight in wider environmental windows. Wing storage means it can carry up to 16 Hellfire or equivalent missiles, assorted munitions, Launched Effects (LEs), or logistical resupply pods. Mojave can provide greater operational flexibility while still being equipped with a multi-sensor suite that includes Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) to support land or maritime missions throughout Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO).

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