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