On the occasion of Euronaval event, Air&Cosmos interviewed Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. The complete interview can be found in the October 16 issue.
What were GA-ASI’s commercial successes in 2020?
First, we look forward to delivering the last of the MQ-9s ordered by the Spanish Air Force (final delivery expected in November). This year, we finalized the UK Protector production contract with the initial orders of a total planned 16 aircraft buy. In fact, the first Protector-configured MQ-9B completed its first flight on September 25th. We also recently completed the contract for MQ-9B SkyGuardian for Belgium. The French Air Force fielded weapons capability on its MQ-9s in 2020, and the last three of six French Air Force MQ-9 Block 5’s will be delivered before year-end. At the end of 2019, the Australian Government announced its selection of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Also noteworthy, the first U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) crew was qualified on the MQ-9A Reaper in support to its Afghanistan mission. The USMC also announced that they are transitioning from a lease model and are acquiring GA-ASI RPAS to perform multi-domain operations (MDO), including maritime surveillance. These decisions are clear signs that the MQ-9 family is meeting operational requirements for its customers.
We look forward to using our Avenger UAS as an early-start surrogate for the U.S. Air Force’s Skyborg program vision. We will fly it in November to demonstrate cognitive artificial intelligence and UAS automation. We will bring that into a series of large force exercises next year, when we will validate the air-to-air capability of disaggregated unmanned systems.
Full interview to be released Monday, October 19th.