First UK manufactured V-tail for RAF Protector fitted

A GA-ASI MQ-9B Protector destined for the RAF has been fitted with the first V-tail manufactured on the Isle of Wight by GKN Aerospace.

Announced via a press release on March 22, the first of the V-tails was shipped from GKN’s Cowes facility, UK, to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) factory in Poway, California. The tail was then fitted on to a MA-9B Protector which is scheduled to be delivered to the RAF in 2024.

protector V Tail
The GKN Aerospace V-tail being fitted on to one of the future RAF's Protectors at GA-ASI's facility in california. RAF 

A total of 11 of the ordered 16 RAF Protectors are expected be fitted with GKN manufactured V-tails. The Protector programme as a whole bring together a range of suppliers on the aircraft, with 12 UK industry partners working on the programme.

There are a number of other countries interested in the MQ-9B, with Belgium having already agreed to procure the Protector for its medium altitude long endurance (MALE) remotely piloted air system (RPAS), and Australia having also selected the MQ-9B. All MQ-9Bs ordered by other countries will be fitted with the GKN Aerospace V-tail going forward.

After more than a decade of partnership working on the MQ-9A programme, the collaboration of GA-ASI and GKN Aerospace working together on the MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian is no surprise, with the V-tails now being standard components on both variants.

RAF Protector
The RAF Protector will be operated by No 31 Squadron, 'Goldstars', a previous Tornado GR4 unit. The markings of the unit can be seen on the Protector's fuselage on this imageRAF.

Robert Schoeffling, vice president of International Strategic Development at GA-ASI, said: “Our companies have worked together for many years, and we’re thrilled to have GKN Aerospace as a strategic supplier for MQ-9B. V-tails from GKN Aerospace are not only for the RAF’s Protector, but the global MQ-9B fleet will use these tails manufactured in the UK as well.”

The Protector will be the RAF’s remotely piloted aircraft with a responsibility of performing intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations. Read more about the new Protector in the link below…