General Atomics' MQ-9 Reaper (formerly the Predator B)
According to Reuters yesterday (Nov. 22), General Atomics Aeronautical Systems may have to lay off about one-fourth of its production staff of 1400 unless the company gets more government orders, Frank Pace, president of the aircraft systems group, said at the Dubai airshow.
Pace said the Pentagon's current plan is to halve its purchases of Predator B drones to around 24 a year; that means the company is looking for foreign purchasers, or perhaps the United States Marine Corps. However, the Marines face cutbacks, too, although it may buy drones in 2018.
However, U.S. restrictions on foreign sales are impeding the export effort, Pace said. Foreign sales of larger unmanned serial vehicles (UAVs) are banned under rhe Missile Technology Control Regime, Reuters said.
General Atomics' new, larger Predator C drone, which can go three times as fast as the Predator B and carries ten times as many sensors, would be subject to those restrictions, Pace said.