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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and GKN Aerospace have signed a contract for the latter to manufacture the advanced composite V-tails for GA-ASI’s new MQ-9B SkyGuardian®Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) from their Cowes facility in the United Kingdom. SkyGuardian is the baseline system of the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) PROTECTOR RG Mk1 and has also been selected by Belgium and Australia. This represents another important milestone in the ten year strategic relationship between GA-ASI and GKN Aerospace, and adds to the strong investment GA-ASI is making in world-leading UK industries.

GA-ASI and GKN Aerospace had previously entered into a pre-production contract, under which GA-ASI provided the required engineering technical data and tooling, and GKN Aerospace developed their manufacturing processes and produced demonstrator parts. Under this latest agreement, GKN Aerospace will begin full rate production of the V-tails from the Cowes facility to support MQ-9B aircraft production.

GKN Aerospace has been a global supplier to GA-ASI’s MQ-9 programme for a decade, with the strategic partnership on GA-ASI’s world-leading RPAS 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 USA. Today, GKN Aerospace manufactures a range of products including the state-of-the-art lightweight landing gear system, which it produces in the Netherlands.