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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

September 12, 2010 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
The cars begin rolling through the security checkpoints before dawn. Here, in a sprawling complex amid the craggy rock outcroppings of north San Diego County, 3,300 workers are building a new generation of weapons central to the military's vision for modern warfare. This is where General Atomics Aeronautical Systems makes the Predator and Reaper drones, robotic planes that can thread the rugged mountains of Pakistan, capture video images of terrorist hideouts and launch 500-pound Hellfire missiles to blast them apart.
August 31, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The U.S. Border Patrol said Tuesday that it would use an unmanned plane to spot human and drug smugglers along the Mexican border. The agency will pay $14.1 million for a Predator B plane, including one year of service and maintenance, said agency spokesman Mario Villarreal. The Predator B will begin patrolling the border next month. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the manufacturer, says it has delivered seven Predator Bs to the U.S. Air Force.
August 19, 2004 | Peter Pae, Times Staff Writer
Northrop Grumman Corp. won a $1-billion contract to develop an unmanned combat aircraft that could take off and land on an aircraft carrier, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The five-year deal awarded to the Century City-based defense contractor is the largest single contract for the development of robotic aircraft. Northrop, which makes the B-2 stealth bomber and the Global Hawk spy plane, will develop the X-47B unmanned combat vehicle in El Segundo, Palmdale and San Diego.
April 23, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Northrop Grumman Corp. won a $1.16-billion contract to build an unmanned surveillance plane to replace the Navy's aging P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, the Pentagon said Tuesday. The work, also sought by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., marks the latest big contract win for Northrop, which in February secured a $35-billion deal to build aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force. Northrop's Global Hawk drone is already flown by the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan.
December 6, 2011 | By W.J. Hennigan, David S. Cloud and Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
The radar-evading drone that crash-landed over the weekend in Iran was on a mission for the CIA, according to a senior U.S. official, raising fears that the aircraft's sophisticated technology could be exploited by Tehran or shared with other American rivals. It was unclear whether the drone's mission took it over Iran or whether it strayed there accidentally because of technical malfunctions, the official said. Though the drone flight was a CIA operation, U.S. military personnel were involved in flying the aircraft, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy involved.
March 19, 2005 | Peter Pae, Times Staff Writer
In a major boost to San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the Air Force said Friday that it planned to spend nearly $6 billion for more than 140 of the company's unmanned Predator spy planes. The remotely controlled aircraft made headlines early in the war in Afghanistan when it spotted a Taliban convoy and fired a Hellfire missile, striking the target. It marked the first search-and-destroy mission by an unmanned aircraft.
December 30, 2013 | By Richard Simon and W.J. Hennigan
WASHINGTON -- After a fierce nationwide competition that offers potentially big economic benefits for the winners, six sites were selected Monday for testing of how drones can be more widely used in U.S. airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration announced the selection of sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. California, vying to become the Silicon Valley of robotic aircraft, was among the losers in the 24-state competition.  "These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
December 22, 2002 | PETER H. KING
In early November the front page of this newspaper carried a remarkable photograph from Yemen. Taken from television footage, the shot depicted a bearded Yemeni in white robe and sandals, bent at the waist, picking with a stick at a black spot in the desert sand. The black spot, the caption explained, was all that remained of what had been, moments before, a vehicle packed with suspected Al Qaeda operatives.
February 13, 2012 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
With a growing fleet of combat drones in its arsenal, the Pentagon is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to open U.S. airspace to its robotic aircraft. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the military says the drones that it has spent the last decade accruing need to return to the United States. When the nation first went to war after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the military had around 50 drones. Now it owns nearly 7,500. These flying robots need to be shipped home at some point, and the military then hopes to station them at various military bases and use them for many purposes.
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