AUVSI: General Atomics looks abroad for sales

Washington DC
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As fiscal sequestration continues, General Atomics - Aeronautical Systems International is largely looking abroad to sell airframes.

"The big opportunity internationally is our NATO partners interested in the MQ-9," says Chris Pehrson, director of strategic development. "Poland's interesting, Germany's interested, [the] Netherlands is interested... probably small numbers, less than a dozen per country, similar to the UK and Italian programs today."

A potential bright spot is the Predator XP, an export-licensed version of the ubiquitous Predator. The model was launched with a purchase by the UAE, but others are interested.

 General Atomics 

The Predator XP is an export-licensed version of General Atomics ubiquitous Predator UAV

"We don't have anybody on contract yet, but we think that's going to open up export opportunities - fairly low numbers initially, but I think as the capability proves itself we'll have more interest out there," says Pehrson. The company reports interest from the Middle East and Latin America.

Domestically, the US Air Force and Army continue follow-on orders for the MQ-9 and MQ-1C platforms. The company is competing for one of the few bright spots on the US UAV map - UCLASS - but budgetary issues threaten to end the programme.

GA-ASI's UCLASS concept is heavily based off the Avenger, a much larger jet-powered version of the Predator, although the UCLASS concept weighs around twice as much as the Avenger - 30,000lb (14,000kg) or so - and contains significant differences, including new airframe structure and engine designs.