WASHINGTON – General Atomics has built and launched a prototype of a new drone with increased firepower compared to other UAVs in service with the US military, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing Defense Express. This new drone has already made its first flight, and by the end of this year, the company should publish photos and reveal some features of this development.
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According to Breaking Defense, citing its own sources, the new UAV will be able to launch a record 16 Hellfire missiles – twice as many as the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and four, compared to the MQ-9 Reaper.
It is alleged that this UAV has already made its first flight this summer at the Desert Horizon test site in the Mojave Desert.
It is noted that the new UAV has received key improvements that will allow it to work effectively in harsh conditions, as well as be able to launch from dirt roads, dry streams, and possibly even from warships.
The design of the new drone will partially repeat the design of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV with an increased range but will have much larger wings, as well as new avionics and capabilities such as automatic takeoff and landing.
At the same time, arming the aircraft with 16 missiles should reduce its endurance, but the company believes that this shortcoming will block the ability of the drone to fly closer to the mission, as well as quickly launch missiles, thereby reducing aircraft weight and air time.
It is known that General Atomics has not yet discussed this project with the US military or potential foreign customers. At the same time, it is noted that the system was developed taking into account the needs of the army command and special operations command, in particular the SOCOM Armed Overwatch program. Also, such a UAV could be useful for the IMC or other expeditionary forces.
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