Uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is testing a direct-fire gun pod for use with several of its platforms.

Working with armaments producer Dillon Aero, General Atomics is adapting the existing DAP-6 podded “minigun” for use with its UAVs, starting with the short take-off and landing Mojave.

The company on 23 April confirmed it is conducting live-fire tests at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona using a Mojave outfitted with two DAP-6 guns.

The DAP-6 is a podded version of Dillon’s infamous six-barrelled M134 gun, which fires the 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridge. The electrically-powered machine gun boasts a firing rate of 3,000 rounds per minute with an effective range of 1.2km (0.75 miles).

General Atomics says it completed two Mojave live-fire flights on 13 April, expending 10,000 rounds of ammunition across seven target passes.

ga-asi-mojave with DAP6 gun pod

Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

General Atomics and Dillon Aero mounted two M134D-H podded “miniguns” onto a Mojave uncrewed aircraft, firing 10,000 rounds of ammunition during two live-fire test flights

Company president David Alexander says adding a direct-fire weapon to Mojave, which can already carry 16 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, provides additional versatility for the multi-role UAV.

“Mojave has the ability to act as a sensor, shooter and sustainer, while mitigating threat environments and vulnerabilities, and safeguarding human lives,” Alexander says.

The Mojave is a derivative of General Atomics’ Predator family of UAVs, which includes the prolific MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle. It also shares commonality with the Gray Eagle 25M, a new modernised Predator variant.

The San Diego-based UAV airframer is positioning its Mojave as an expeditionary aircraft, capable of operating from remote forward bases without requiring paved runways or typical airfield infrastructure.

“It can take-off and land from countless remote semi-improved surfaces while under pilot control via a traditional ground control station or scalable command and control laptop solution,” General Atomics says, also noting the potential for aircraft carrier-based options.

The company is also developing a DAP-6 wing kit for the larger MQ-9B SkyGuardian, including the maritime SeaGuardian variant.