Drone-Maker Expands Operations in the Middle East

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Drone-maker General Atomics is expanding its operations in the Middle East with a new office in the United Arab Emirates.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the San Diego-based maker of the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, said its new location in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, will support its customers in the Middle East and North Africa.

The first international customer of the Predator-series remotely piloted aircraft, UAE in 2013 signed a nearly $200 deal to buy an unspecified number of Predator XPs, the unarmed export version of the MQ-1 designed for surveillance missions.

The Predator XP is the company’s newest design and has an endurance of 35 hours and can fly as high as 25,000 feet. It’s equipped with radar and sensors to offer wide-area surveillance but not weapon systems such as laser-guided bombs or air-to-ground missiles — giving it different type of missile classification that can be sold directly to foreign customers.

“We intend to support these markets with complete RPA systems and full-service sustainment for many years to come and have selected a team with an established track record for generating results to energize our business development efforts in these territories,” Frank Pace, president of the company’s aircraft systems division, said in a statement.

General Atomics made the announcement of its new office, which opened in August, during the Dubai Airshow, one of the fastest growing shows in the world and illustrative of the growing defense market in the Mideast.

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.