The first V-tail from GKN Aerospace has been received by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and installed onto an MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
SkyGuardian is the baseline RPA of the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Protector RG Mk1. The first of the advanced composite V-tails was shipped from the GKN Aerospace facility in Cowes, England to GA-ASI in Poway, Calif. and fitted onto an MQ-9B RPA, which will ultimately be delivered to the RAF as a Protector RPA.
GA-ASI and GKN Aerospace have partnered for more than a decade, first as part of the MQ-9A program and now with the MQ-9B. The GKN Aerospace V-tails are now a standard component of MQ-9B SkyGuardian and the maritime variant, SeaGuardian.
“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 UK as well.”
GA-ASI and GKN Aerospace announced the V-tail collaboration for MQ-9B earlier this year. 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 world-leading RPA systems starting in 2010. Activities began with the design and build of the “fit and forget” fuel bladder system in Portsmouth, UK, followed by the production of fuel bladders in the United States. 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.
GKN Aerospace’s VP Defence – Europe, Rupert Dix, said: “Our partnership with GA-ASI on the MQ-9B program is an important development for our Defence 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.”