GKN Wins Key X-47B contract – But Will J-UCAS Survive?
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Pegasus is part of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS), and the X-47B’s development program and capability requirements changes have been covered by DID before. The outboard wings of the aircraft are of composite, aluminum and titanium, while the center fuselage is aluminum. Now SpaceWar.com reports that GKN Aerospace has been confirmed as the producer for this combat UAV’s composite skins, covers and doors. They are also responsible for the design, tooling and manufacture of the outboard wing and the forward center fuselage section.
The outer wing and fuselage sections of the X-47B will be designed at GKN’s Nashville, TN Engineering Development Center. Tool design and tool management will be accomplished at GKN’s Engineering Development Center in Meridian, CT. The graphite composite skins, which will cover nearly 90% of the unmanned vehicles’ surface, will be manufactured at GKN Aerospace’s St. Louis, MO facility alongside the actuated doors for the vehicle, including the weapon’s bay, nose and main landing gear doors. Should the X-47B enter full production, the total value of the contract would exceed $500 million.
As DefenseTech notes, however, the entire J-UCAS robotic attack UAV program may be at risk in the forthcoming Quadrennial Defense Review. Will it be terminated, or will it be back?