Tactical unmanned aerial system
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
Rolls Royce M250
Mojave is a short take-off and landing (STOL) unmanned aerial system (UAS) designed and developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), a manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and radar systems. It can provide enhanced ammunition capabilities and firepower.
The UAS is the latest aircraft in GA-ASI’s Predator series of RPAs. The Predator series is known for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, as well as kinetic and non-kinetic fire support overmatch.
The prototype of the unmanned platform underwent flight tests for the first time in 2021. Mojave was officially announced by the company in December 2021.
Mojave UAS design and features
The Mojave UAS has reduced footprint and large wings that provide room for high-lift devices. It can support forward-basing operations as it does not require traditional paved runway. It can take-off from and land on remote semi-improved surfaces. The aircraft is expected to provide similar endurance and persistence as traditional crewed aircraft.
The aircraft has a payload carrying capacity of 3,600lb (1,633kg). It has an overall length of 29ft (9m), wingspan of 52ft (16m), and maximum gross take-off weight of 7,000lb (3,175kg).
The avionics and flight control systems of Mojave are based on the systems of the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle-ER.
Mission capabilities of Mojave UAS
The Mojave UAS is designed to conduct long-endurance armed overwatch, armed reconnaissance, and attack missions. It can provide armed support to the forces on ground. The quick weapons reload capability allows the aircraft to support the ground forces even from austere sites located near the battleground. The aircraft can support multi-domain operations (MDO).
The aircraft is equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) and a satellite communication (SATCOM) datalink with anti-jam technologies to mitigate interference and jamming threats.
The advanced datalink provides line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond LOS (BLOS) capabilities.
Command and control
The Mojave UAS can be controlled right from the take-off until landing using a traditional ground control system managed by a single pilot. A laptop-based interface known as scalable command and control (SC2) system is planned to be used to operate the UAS.
GA-ASI has been testing the SC2 solution in partnership with the US Army. The SC2 requires limited hardware and provides the functionalities of the conventional ground control station from the comfort of a laptop. It reduces the workload of the operator of the UAS using automated check lists.
Weapon and sensor payloads carried on Mojave UAS
The aircraft’s open architecture design enables flexible integration of payloads. The UAS has seven hardpoints, including six underwing points and a centreline one, to carry the weapon systems. Four hardpoints on the weapon stations on the wings can carry up to 650lb (294.83kg) each, while two additional hardpoints, one on each wing, provide a capacity of 350lb (158.75kg) each. The central hardpoint provides a payload carrying capacity of 500lb (226.79kg).
The Mojave UAS can carry up to 16 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles or other missiles in similar configuration.
It can be equipped with high-definition electro optical/ infrared radar (EO/IR), signal intelligence (SIGINT), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and ground moving target indicator (GMTI). These payloads make the aircraft suitable for both land and maritime missions.
Propulsion and performance
The powerhouse of the aircraft is a Rolls Royce M250 turboprop engine, which has a rated power of 450shp. The UAS has a fuel capacity of 3,550lb (1,610kg). It is transportable by the C-130 military transport aircraft. It takes 1.5 hours from roll out to take off with a team of four personnel. The flight time for the UAS with ISR payloads is eight hours and three hours with 12 Hellfire weapon payloads.
The Mojave aircraft has a take-off distance of 400ft (122m) for ISR missions and 1,000ft (304m) for attack missions. It provides a maximum endurance of more than 25 hours. The unmanned system has a flying range of 2,500nm (4,630km) in a ferry configuration.
The ground support equipment of the UAS can be self-ferried or transported using a UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter.