GKN Aerospace (GKN) and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) have worked together for many years on aircraft for military use, including the MQ-9A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). Based on an agreement signed in 2021, the partners are now developing the MQ-9B SkyGuardian® RPA and the marine version of the aircraft, the MQ-9B SeaGuardian®.
The MQ-9B features both software and hardware upgrades when compared to the MQ-9A including the new, composite V-tail. The first V-tail was manufactured at GKN’s Cowes facility in the U.K. and was recently received by GA-ASI at its Poway, Calif. facility and fitted onto an MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA. The composite V-tail will be standard equipment on the RPAs. The aircraft will be delivered to the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) for use as a Protector RPA used for Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. The Belgian Defense and the Australian Defense Forces have also selected SkyGuardian RPAs for protective purposes.
“Our companies have worked together for many years, and we’re thrilled to have GKN Aerospace as a strategic supplier for MQ-9B,” said General Atomics -Aeronautical Systems, Inc. Vice President of International Strategic Development Robert Schoeffling. “V-tails from GKN Aerospace are not only for the RAF’s Protector, but the global MQ-9B fleet will use these tails manufactured in the UK as well.”
GKN Aerospace’s Vice President Defense – Europe, Rupert Dix, added: “Our partnership with GA-ASI on the MQ-9B program is an important development for our Defense business and paves the way for continued growth of advanced aerospace manufacturing in the UK. Our team at the Cowes facility has worked very hard to get the V-tail line into full production while working to ensure on-time delivery of our quality products. We look forward to affirming our commitment throughout the lifecycle of this vital platform.”