General Atomics Develops New MQ-9B Aircraft With STOL Capabilities

GA-ASI to develop new STOL-capable aircraft 6 photos
Photo: General Atomics
GA-ASI Mojave droneGA-ASI Mojave droneGA-ASI Mojave droneGA-ASI Mojave droneGA-ASI Mojave drone
General Atomics (GA-ASI) announced that a new short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft will join the Mojave series. The MQ-9B STOL will combine the capabilities of the SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian drones with the flexibility to carry out operations in more challenging environments.
The company started developing STOL-capable aircraft back in 2017 as part of its Mojave initiative. A modified Gray Eagle drone was tested out for the first time last year. Now, GA-ASI will add STOL capabilities to the MQ-9B, a multi-mission platform that can fly in all types of weather, delivering real-time situational awareness anywhere, anytime.

The new drone will combine the reliability of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems with the flexibility to perform tasks in more complex environments, allowing operators to access various sites on land and at sea.

According to GA-ASI, the M9-9B STOL will have the same core as the SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian drones. But it will come with an optional wing and tail kit that can be installed in less than a day. The upgrade can be done either in a hangar or on a flight line. It’s a cost-effective solution since the operators will not need to acquire a new aircraft.

“Imagine taking the hard top off your Jeep. You lift it off, stow it in your garage and now you’ve got an open vehicle. If it rains, you put the hard top back on. We’re the same. Take a standard MQ-9B, put the STOL kit on, and then go fly,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander.

The MQ-9B STOL could also be used on an aircraft carrier or a large-deck amphibious assault ship in the future. Thanks to its collapsible wings, the drone can be stored on the deck or in the hangar bay like other naval aircraft. When it’s ready for operation, the STOL will unfold its wings and simply take off without requiring an aircraft catapult.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows General Atomics' Mojave drone.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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