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GKN Aerospace has secured a contract to manufacture the advanced composite V-tails for the MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) aircraft.

The contract was signed with General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI).

Full rate production of the V-tails under the contract will take place at GKN Aerospace’s Cowes plant in the UK.

The latest contract expands GA-ASI’s partnership with GKN Aerospace and adds to the heavy investments that GA-ASI is making in the leading UK industries.

GA-ASI International Strategic Development vice-president Tommy Dunehew said: “We are pleased to expand this relationship with composite structures manufactured in the UK. This will mean that not only the RAF’s Protector will have UK-manufactured tails, but the global MQ-9B fleet will also benefit from tails manufactured in the UK.”

Since 2010, GKN Aerospace has been a global supplier to GA-ASI’s MQ-9 programme.

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By GlobalData

GKN initially started with design and build activities of the ‘fit and forget’ fuel bladder system in Portsmouth, UK.

In May 2017, it teamed up for the design and production of fuel bladders for the MQ-9B RPAS.

GKN manufactures a range of products, including the advanced lightweight landing gear system, in the Netherlands.

GKN Aerospace Defence business president Krisstie Kondrotis said: “We have ambitious plans to grow our defence business and this is an important milestone for GKN Aerospace, and especially the Cowes facility, paving the way for continued growth in the UK for advanced aerostructures manufacturing.

“GA-ASI is the market leader in RPAS, while GKN Aerospace is a market and technology leader in advanced aerostructures, special products and lightweight technologies.”

The MQ-9B model is the most advanced RPAS developed by GA-ASI.

The SkyGuardian aircraft is serving as a pre-production example and baseline system of the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Protector RG Mk1.

It has also been selected by the Belgian and the Australian defence forces.