This New Defense Drone Can Carry 16 Hellfire Missiles In-Flight – More Than Ever Before

A report from Breaking Defense claims that Poway, a California-based General Atomics is testing the prototype of a drone with firepower that beats the current ones the US military has.  

The company’s objective is to make a drone with more firepower than any of the existing ones. There is no other clear strategy for this development.

This new drone can carry up to 16 Hellfire missiles on a single flight. This is four times as much firepower that the MQ-9 Reaper can carry. The MQ-9 Reaper was also developed by the same company and has a range of 1000 miles. It is currently being used by Homeland Security and other countries.

screencap from L3 Harris video

The design for the new drone is inspired by MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

However, this high firepower comes with its downside as well. The current Gray Eagle has a carrying capacity of only 800 pounds (360 kg), so the doubling of its payload capacity is likely to have an effect on its endurance while also reducing its capacities of carrying payloads for other missions or cooling systems for its sensors. 

Details of the engine used are not yet revealed. It is although told that the drone has larger wings. This hints that the engine will be more powerful too. The automated landing and take-off feature will decrease the burden of decisions on the UAV pilot. 

A New Defense Drone Reportedly Caught 16 Hellfire Missiles Mid-Flight

The drone is said to require less than 800-feet (244 m) to take off and land. This suggests that it can be easily used by the Navy or the Army in rough terrain. This will further allow the drone to be launched closer to the combat site which will not create problems for the lowered endurance due to the increased payload. 

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