GKN Aerospace (GKN) and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) have worked together for many years on aircraft for military use, including the MQ-9A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). Based on an agreement signed in 2021, the partners are now developing the MQ-9B SkyGuardian® RPA and the marine version of the aircraft, the MQ-9B SeaGuardian®.
The MQ-9B features both software and hardware upgrades when compared to the MQ-9A including the new, composite V-tail. The first V-tail was manufactured at GKN’s Cowes facility in the U.K. and was recently received by GA-ASI at its Poway, Calif. facility and fitted onto an MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA. The composite V-tail will be standard equipment on the RPAs. The aircraft will be delivered to the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) for use as a Protector RPA used for Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. The Belgian Defense and the Australian Defense Forces have also selected SkyGuardian RPAs for protective purposes.