G.A. Unveils MQ-9B STOL UAV

G.A. Unveils MQ-9B STOL UAV
G.A. Unveils MQ-9B STOL UAV

U.S. Company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) unveiled a new MQ-9B UAV variant at INDO PACIFIC 2022 expo in Australia. The MQ-9B STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) is designed to operate from amphibious vessel decks.


G.A. Unveils MQ-9B STOL UAV

The MQ-9B STOL can join operations from amphibious assault ships without a ski jump or catapult. It will land on the deck without the arresting cable as well. The new design features folding wings optimised for STOL and an enlarged v-tail. The new UAVs will operate from the U.S. Navy’s America-class Landing Helicopter Assaults (LHA) and Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships.

G.A. Unveils MQ-9B STOL UAV

According to the company press release, the MQ-9B STOL can be fitted with sonobuoy pods to detect and track enemy submarines. The UAV has an endurance of 30 hours, and according to the promotional video, the MQ-9B STOL will carry AGM-114 Hellfire and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. Therefore, the armed UAV will be suitable for Close Air Support (CAS) and air to air defence missions.

While remotely piloted aircraft aren’t commonly associated with air-to-air combat due to lack of time to control the plane, it is known that fire and forget type missiles have been tested in the past. A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper reportedly shot down another airborne drone in 2017. The missile is assumed to be either the FIM-92 Stinger missile or an AIM-9X sidewinder. It is known that another U.S. Air Force MQ-9 successfully shot down a drone with an AIM-9X missile in 2020.


The United States Marine Corps (USMC) currently plans to procure 16 MQ-9As through the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Systems Expeditionary (MUX) program. 

G.A. Unveils MQ-9B STOL UAV

The company stated that it began STOL development in 2017 as part of its Mojave initiative. STOL capability was first shown in 2021 on a modified Gray Eagle Extended Range platform, but the corporation will soon begin developing STOL on the MQ-9B. Installing the optional wing and tail kit will take less than a day. The body of the aircraft and its subsystems remain unchanged.

Operators can undertake the alteration in a hangar or on the flight line, providing a capability that would otherwise necessitate the purchase of a whole new aircraft.