Friday, April 19, 2024

GA-ASI Mojave completes successful take-offs and landings on a dirt

Designer and developer of reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radar, and electro-optic and related mission systems, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has completed several successful take-offs and landings with its Mojave Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) on a dirt strip near El Mirage, California.

The Mojave is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle capable of short take-off and landing (STOL) developed to operate over more rugged terrain with a combat loadout. It also provides the option of being equipped with various electronic systems to assist ground forces.

The Mojave is a technical demonstrator with STOL capability, making it a versatile mission UAS. It is 9 meters long with a wingspan of 16 meters and has a fuel capacity of 3,550 lbs. The UAS has a flying range of 2,500nm (4,630km) in ferry configuration, and being unmanned, does not include an onboard crew but requires two crew members at the ground station. The Mojave can fit into a C-130 to increase operational reach and can be quickly assembled and deployed. It can take off with a maximum weight of 3,175 kg (7,000 lb).

“Being able to execute missions in austere locations with runway independence opens the operational envelope for commanders across all services and geographic locations,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander in an official release. “Mojave can do this while retaining significant advantages in endurance and persistence over Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) and manned aircraft.”

The flight tests were the first STOL on a soil surface for Mojave. Take-off was done at 586 feet, and a short landing was achieved at 335 feet. The tests were primarily focused on gathering terrain feedback using the Mojave rather than covering as short a distance as possible.

The ability to take off and land on unimproved surfaces demonstrates Mojave’s ability to provide greater versatility and allow aircraft to operate in areas previously considered unsuitable for UAS operations.

The Mojave has a configuration similar to the MQ-9 Reaper, with low-mounted wings, a bulbous nose, and a Y-tail. This UAS is powered by a Rolls-Royce M250 turboprop 450 hp (340 kW) engine mounted in a pusher configuration.

Designed to be rapidly deployable and expeditionary, Mojave’s tailored features include a ruggedized airframe that enables operations in austere conditions and weatherization that enable flight in wider environmental windows. Robust wing storage means it can carry up to 16 Hellfire or equivalent missiles, assorted munitions, Launched Effects (LEs), or logistical resupply pods.

GA-ASI Mojave can provide more operational flexibility when 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).