General Atomics and GKN Aerospace have declared their intent to collaborate on composite tails for the Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

The Predator B line currently includes MQ-9A, Guardian, MQ-9A Extended Range, MQ-9A Big Wing, MQ-9B SkyGuardian, and MQ-9B Sea Guardian.

According to a press release issued at the Farborough airshow, GA-ASI has been partnered with GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business unit in the Netherlands since 2016 for production and sustainment of Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper landing gear subsystems. In April of this year, GKN Aerospace Deutschland and GA-ASI entered into a Technical Assistance Agreement to expand GA-ASI’s carbon-composite manufacturing capabilities significantly by manufacturing major aerostructures for MQ-9B SkyGuardian, the latest evolution of the multi-mission Predator B, in Germany.

Following the successful completion of the required technical and commercial evaluations and agreement, GA-ASI also intends to perform composite manufacturing for Predator B tail structures at GKN facilities in the UK.

Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI said:

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with GKN Aerospace as part of our growing industrial collaboration team in the UK. We have seen the results of GKN Aerospace’s extensive experience in advanced composite manufacturing first-hand and look forward to working with its team.”

Michiel van der Maat, vice president business development defence, Aerostructures and Systems Europe and Asia of GKN Aerospace added in a release:

“We are proud to have the opportunity to be involved in the manufacturing of a key component of the proven Predator B aircraft family. Our goal is to deliver structurally lightweight composite tails to GA-ASI that meet the highest certification standards while delivering best in class performance.”


  1. Its crazy how Germany and Netherlands haven’t committed to buying a single MQ9B yet they get a larger work share than the UK in the hope of an order, while the UK has ordered around 30 if you consider the Reaper and Protector as part of the same family.
    No wonder Trump accuses them of screwing everyone over on trade.

    • Does’nt give much hope for us negotiating a good post-BREXIT UK/EU trade deal does it ? We are too quick and willing to compromise in order to accomodate others in the hope it will result in good will, it rarely does.

      • My thinking is slightly different. We bend over backwards for the US, trying to keep the ‘special relationship’ and because of that we let the US walk all over us.

        In my opinion the merits of the special relationship are up for debate, i am not sure we really get enough in return when compared to other similar sized western nations, but I can see that some might disagree.

        On this front though, we had no choice, we had gone down the US drone route and have come massively reliant on them during recent wars, that we had no choice but to buy American for the replacement. Sometimes pretending to invest in domestic tech gives you a better negotiation position, but equally your throwing money away that you never really intend to benefit from, since there is zero chance we could have a cost effective drone ready in time, considering the capability of the predator b.

        • Good thing we have utilised US drones given the Watchkeeper fiasco…

          Going forward we need to get our butt into gear to develop drones that are capable of early warning, air to air refuelling, and combat functions from our carriers.

          • Well said Sean. I’ve been banging on about drones for ages. We have some of the best expertise in the world for a lot of the technologies needed for drones. Materials science, computer control systems, engines etc.

            Don’t forget the smaller stuff though, stuff that could be deployed and serviced in a standard ISO container (the container essentially becomes its hanger). Those could very significantly enhance the capabilities of vessels like River B2s and Bays as well as the bigger ships.

            A Schiebel S-100 can already dbe container hosted with probably a bit of space to spare and is close to being able to carry a decent sensor suite plus a couple of LMM and laser designator. I would hope that an innovative and probably just slightly larger UK design could carry both (with weight wise 4 x FFLMM maybe being an alternative weapons load).

            If we’re not happy with the partnership arrangements we get when working with and/or buying from the US then take the fight to them. If we’re funding a full-on next-gen manned fighter (Tempest) then we can certainly afford to get into the medium to medium-small sized drone market.

  2. My feeling is the Tempest project is effectively an attempt to still look relevant and will end up with no output.

    Reality is when we leave the EU, we will also leave EU military projects, as they will isolate us, which is reasonable, since we are choosing to leave and so why should we benefit from membership.

    Can we realistically design and build a cost effective fighter alone, I would argue not a chance in the modern world, yes France did it, but things have moved on since the Rafale (a project starting in the 70s, at the period of the cold war was still resulting in massive defense budgets). The question then moves on to, who is out there that would want in at a early stage and that will be willing to put sufficient investment (buy enough jets) to make it work?

    Most countries have now gone too far down the US route to back out and realistically the US version will be more advanced or cheaper, simply through economy of scale. The only country i can think of is Japan, but it would take something significant for them to consider not going US.

    • Japan Korea Canada Australia Turkey Brazil and Sweden would all be keen to join a credible future fighter program. We are talking about 2035 so they would all prefer to join if they got a bigger share of the workshare pie rather than 1 or 2% of and f3….


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