General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has installed the first V-tail onto an MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), which will ultimately be delivered to the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) as a Protector RPA.
The advanced composite V-tail was manufactured by GKN Aerospace as part of a collaboration with GA-ASI for MQ-9B SkyGuardian that was announced earlier this year.
GKN Aerospace shipped this first V-tail from its facility in Cowes, U.K. to GA-ASI in Poway, California, U.S. The GKN Aerospace V-tails are now a standard component of MQ-9B SkyGuardian and the maritime variant, SeaGuardian. SkyGuardian is the baseline RPA of the RAF’s Protector RG Mk1.
“Our companies have worked together for many years, and we’re thrilled to have GKN Aerospace as a strategic supplier for MQ-9B,” said GA-ASI 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 U.K. as well.”
GKN Aerospace has been a global supplier to GA-ASI’s MQ-9 RPA program for a decade, with the strategic partnership on GA-ASI’s RPA systems starting in 2010. Activities began with the design and build of the ‘fit and forget’ fuel bladder system in Portsmouth, U.K., followed by the production of fuel bladders in the U.S.
Today, GKN Aerospace manufactures a range of products for the Predator suite of aircraft, including fuel bladders, V-tails, and the state-of-the-art lightweight landing gear system manufactured in the Netherlands.
“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 U.K.,” said GKN Aerospace’s VP Defense – Europe, Rupert Dix. “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.”