POWAY, Calif. — As the manufacturer of the Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, General Atomics is one of the most prodigious defense contractors working today. It is also one of the most secretive and reclusive, opting to keep new developments under lock and key.

Until now.

The company invited reporters on Aug. 15 and 16 to a media open house at their headquarters in Poway, California, for a series of briefings about emerging technology and GA’s growth path for the MQ-9 Reaper.

Here is a snapshot of what the company is working on.

A Reaper that can fly in national airspace

General Atomics is racing to make its MQ-9B Sky Guardian the first UAV certified to fly through civil airspace in the United States and Europe without needing special permissions from the Federal Aviation Administration or NATO.

Sky Guardian looks and flies like a baseline MQ-9 Reaper, but is pretty much a completely new aircraft, said a GA official that was not authorized to speak on the record. Almost all GA media day briefings were made available “on background,” meaning that journalists were not permitted to attribute information to specific subject matter experts.

The MQ-9B has longer wings, which help give it a lengthier endurance of 40 hours compared to 27 hours in a Block 5 Reaper. It might also have a much longer lifespan of about 40,000 flight hours, double that of a baseline MQ-9, however the official noted that figure still needs to be proven through lab tests.