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GKN Aerospace building fuel bladder system for MQ-9B drone

By Richard Tomkins
GKN Aerospace building fuel bladder system for MQ-9B drone
GA-ASI's first production Predator B MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft will feature a specially built fuel bladder system from GKN Aerospace. Predator photo by GA-ASI.

May 5 (UPI) -- The first production Predator B MQ-9B drone by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. will feature a fuel bladder system from GKN Aerospace.

GKN said the system will be designed, developed and manufactured for the aircraft under a development agreement with the aircraft maker.

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The agreement for the system for the first production drone -- due in 2018 -- has a full potential value of $15 million when it enters service with NATO's UAV airworthiness Requirements.

The MQ-9B is a "Type-Certifiable" version of GA-ASI's Predator B product line.

"We look forward to working with GA-ASI to provide a vital fuel system solution for this long-endurance Predator B platform variant," Staffan Svensson, vice president of GKN Aerospace Special Products Group, said in a press release. "We have been supplying fuel systems for many decades and for many airframe platforms and MQ-9B fully exploits all our recent advances in both manufacturing and materials technologies."

GKN said the fuel bladder will be made in a vacuum forming process using poly-urethane material for shapes that better fit available space on the aircraft airframe.

The Predator B has a speed of about 300 miles per hour and an endurance of about 14 hours when fully loaded. In addition to sensors and other electronic systems, the aircraft is weapons capable.

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The bladder system will be built at a company facility in Alabama.

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