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The New Predator Drone Built to Navigate Terrains

General Atomics revealed earlier this month that Mojave will be the name of its newest Predator drone. The Mojave is part of a family of flying weapons that includes the Reaper and Gray Eagle. It is designed for harsher and more difficult conditions than its predecessors. The Mojave is unique in that it was Built expressly as a short-takeoff and landing plane, allowing it to operate in a wider range of terrain.

The Mojave arrives 14 years after the Reaper and 27 years after the Predator made its first flight in 1994. These drones aren’t exactly new, but it’s been a while since a new version of the design was deployed in the military. The Predator began life as an unarmed scout before being upgraded to launch weapons, but it was the dedicated Reaper, designed to fly from long runways with a full load of missiles, that defined the use of drones in the lengthy War on Terror.

This hunter-killer role is important to modern drones, and it was highlighted in an Air Force request for information issued in April. The Air Force requested new sensors for Reapers and future drones in this proposal. The remainder of the request focuses on the technicalities of installing a new camera on a drone. According to The War Zone, one of the requirements for the new drone is that it be attritable or expendable, unlike the Reaper, as well as, or as an alternative to being survivable and reusable.

It will also, as stated in the Mojave’s launch announcement, be designed for a more dynamic conflict than the Reaper, with bases being maintained for weeks rather than years as front lines alter. A drone’s short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability increases the number of airfields from which it can fly, and it’s a desirable feature when standard runways can’t be Built or seized in time. Even difficult roads and clearings could be used by a STOL drone.

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