General Atomics

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General Atomics
Industry Aerospace and defense
Founded 1955
Headquarters San Diego, California, U.S.
Key people
J. Neal Blue
Linden S. Blue
Subsidiaries General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

General Atomics is a defense contractor headquartered in San Diego, California, specializing in nuclear physics. General Atomics' research into nuclear fission and nuclear fusion has also had bearing on related technologies[citation needed], allowing the company to expand into other fields of research and manufacturing. General Atomics develops systems[clarification needed] ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, advanced electric, electronic, wireless, and laser technologies[citation needed].


The TRIGA nuclear reactor was one of the first General Atomics projects

General Atomics (GA) was founded on July 18, 1955, in San Diego, California as the General Atomic division of General Dynamics "for the purpose of harnessing the power of nuclear technologies for the benefit of mankind".[citation needed]

GA's first offices were in the General Dynamics facility on Hancock Street in San Diego.[citation needed] GA also used a schoolhouse on San Diego's Barnard Street as its temporary headquarters, which it would later "adopt" as part of its Education Outreach program.[citation needed] In 1976 San Diego voters approved the transfer of land to GA for permanent facilities in Torrey Pines and the John Jay Hopkins Laboratory for Pure and Applied Science was formally dedicated there on June 25, 1959.[citation needed] The Torrey Pines facility continues to serve as the company's headquarters today.[citation needed]

The initial projects were the TRIGA nuclear research reactor and Project Orion.[citation needed] A brief history of the company follows:

On March 15, 2010, Cassidy stepped down as President of GA-ASI’s Aircraft Systems Group, staying on as non-executive chairman of the company's management committee. Frank Pace, the executive vice president of Aircraft Systems Group, succeeded Cassidy as President of GA-ASI.[4]

General Atomics is also developing a Generation IV reactor design, the Gas Turbine Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR). In 2010, General Atomics presented a new version of the GT-MHR, the Energy Multiplier Module (EM2), which uses fast neutrons and is a Gas-cooled fast reactor.[5]

General Atomics, including its affiliate, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, is San Diego County’s largest defense contractor, according to a September 2013 report by the San Diego Military Affairs Council. The top five contractors, ranked by defense-generated revenue in fiscal year 2013, were General Atomics, followed by Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics-NASSCO, BAE Systems, and SAIC. A separate October 2013 report by the San Diego Business Journal ranked contractors by the number of local employees. The top three contractors were General Atomics (7,668 local employees), Northrop Grumman (3,847), and SAIC (2,778).[6]

Business groups[edit]

  • Electromagnetic Systems Group
    • The Electromagnetic Systems (EMS) Group is a supplier of electromagnetic systems and related power equipment for a variety of defense, energy, and commercial transportation applications. EMS has expertise in the design and fabrication of linear motors, superconducting and conventional rotating motors, power inverters, high-voltage DC power distribution systems, and numerous other energy conversion, distribution, and storage systems. EMS is a major factor in applying electromagnetic technologies to aircraft launch and recovery (EMALS and AAG System), projectile launch (Navy rail gun), and magnetic levitation transportation systems.
  • Energy Group[7]
  • Nuclear Fuels Group

Affiliated companies[edit]

The Predator UAV is made by General Atomics affiliate General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) - General Atomics Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) — GA-ASI’s Aircraft Systems Group produces the Predator series of remotely piloted aircraft used in the Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts. GA-ASI’s Reconnaissance Systems Group provides tactical reconnaissance radars, as well as high-resolution surveillance systems for both manned and unmanned aircraft.
  • General Atomics Electronic Systems (GA-ESI) - General Atomics Electronic Systems, Inc. consists of five product lines involving different aspects of energy.[8][9]
    • Terminal Automation Products (TAP) provides automated distribution, inventory control and transaction processing systems to bulk product storage facilities that handle petroleum, chemical and agricultural products.
    • Radiation Monitoring Systems (RMS) designs, manufactures, and supports a full range of radiation monitoring, detecting, control, data collection, and display equipment, with equipment and systems at over half of the currently operating nuclear plants in the United States and at numerous sites in Europe and throughout the Far East.
    • General Atomics Energy Products manufactures Maxwell high voltage capacitors after acquiring the product line from Maxwell Technologies in 2000.[10]
    • The Gulftronic Separator System is a continuous operation, electrostatic, on-stream separation system currently in use by most major oil companies. Since their introduction in 1979, over 30 systems have been installed at petroleum refineries worldwide.
    • TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotopes and General Atomics),[11] with over 65 facilities in 22 countries, is a supplier of nuclear research reactors for university, industrial, government, and medical applications. Originally designed to meet requirements for operator training, educational programs including nuclear research, and fuel development, TRIGA's design has allowed its usage to be expanded to meet the requirements of application in medical and agricultural research, isotope production, and neutron radiography.
  • General Atomics Systems Integration, LLC (GA-SI) - GA-SI is a provider of military and commercial engineering services. GA-SI is active in aircraft systems integration technologies, reliability improvements, and controls system design. GA-SI provides engineering services for new-development and aging-system services to military and commercial customers. The company also provides Test and Evaluation assessment as well as field services.[12]
  • ConverDyn - ConverDyn serves the global nuclear industry, offering UF6. They coordinate and manage all aspects of the conversion process, including uranium deliveries, uranium sampling, materials storage, and product delivery.[13] It is jointly owned with Honeywell Inc.
  • Cotter Corporation - Cotter Corporation is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Through its various mining and milling operations, Cotter has produced uranium, vanadium, molybdenum, silver, lead, zinc, copper, selenium, nickel, cobalt, tungsten and limestone. Originally incorporated in 1956 in New Mexico as a uranium production company, Cotter was purchased by and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Commonwealth Edison in 1975. GA acquired Cotter in early 2000.[14]
  • Heathgate Resources Pty. Ltd. - Formed in 1990, Heathgate Resources is the owner and operator of the Beverley Uranium Mine in northern South Australia. Beverley is Australia's third uranium mine and Australia's only operating In Situ Leach mine.[15]
  • Nuclear Fuels Corporation - Nuclear Fuels Corporation (NFC) was formed in 1991 by General Atomics (GA) to market uranium produced from GA mining assets as well as to develop additional uranium projects. NFC is a long-term contract supplier to both U.S. and foreign utilities and actively participates in uranium trading. NFC is the marketing representative for other GA affiliates, Heathgate Resources and Cotter Corporation. The company also has an agreement to purchase all uranium recovered by Wismut GmbH from reclamation of the Königstein mine in eastern Germany.[16]
  • Rio Grande Resources Corporation - Rio Grande Resources Corporation controls uranium operations and mineral resources acquired by GA from Chevron Resources in 1991. Included in this acquisition were mines in south Texas and New Mexico. In New Mexico, the Mt. Taylor project, a conventional underground mine that contains the largest uranium resource in the United States, is currently on standby.[17]
  • TRIGA International (with CERCA, a subsidiary of Areva)
  • Spezialtechnik Dresden GmbH - Spezialtechnik Dresden GmbH (STD) stands as holding at the head of the Spezialtechnik-Group Dresden and renders commercially characterized and marketing/sales oriented consulting and support services for the companies of the group.[18]

Educational outreach[edit]

Since 1992, the General Atomics Science Education Outreach Program, a volunteer effort of GA employees and San Diego science teachers, has worked with Science Coordinators for the San Diego Schools to bring the business and research side of science into the classroom. The goal is both to improve the quality of science education and to encourage more students to pursue science careers. In addition, the teachers' interactions with the scientists and exposure to everyday uses of their disciplines help them to be better educators.

In 1995, the program was expanded, and the General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation [501(c) (3)] was established. The General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation's goal is to play a major role in enhancing pre-college education in science, engineering and new technologies. To attain this goal, four areas of core competency at General Atomics were initially selected to form the basis for the development of inquiry-based education modules and associated workshops. Scientist/teacher teams wrote these modules, which fuse the content and methodology of industrial research and development with the teaching skills of experienced science teachers.


  • 2013 Neal Blue, CEO of General Atomics, receives the 29th Annual International von Karman Wings Award[19]
  • 2008 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Company of the Year[20]
  • 2008 Defense News Top 100, Ranked #57[21]
  • Frost & Sullivan 2006 Business Development Strategy Leadership Award, presented for Gains in the Unmanned Aerial Systems Market[22]
  • Shephard Press' Unmanned Vehicles 2005 UAV Design Innovation Award, presented for Warrior Extended Range/Multi-Purpose UAV
  • Aviation Week 2005 Employer of Choice Finalist, Diversity, Valuing People, Technological Challenge—Third Best U.S. Aerospace/Defense Employer
  • USAF Association 2004 John R. Alison Award for the most outstanding contributions to national defense by an industrial leader, presented to President/CEO, Thomas J. Cassidy Jr.[23]
  • AUVSI's 2002 Pioneer Award, presented to President/CEO Thomas J. Cassidy Jr.[24]
  • USAF's 2001 Packard Award for Development & Engineering, presented for Predator/Hellfire Integration[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ FYI: US NIC changes or non-changes(archive)
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Profile: General Atomics"
  4. ^ "Unmanned aircraft pioneer Thomas J. Cassidy Jr. retires", Los Angeles Times, accessed 16 March 2010.
  5. ^ General Atomics EM2 website, accessed 18 Oct 2010
  6. ^ San Diego Union Tribune, September 26, 2013
  7. ^ GA Energy Group
  8. ^ General Atomics Electronic Systems web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010
  9. ^ About General Atomics Electronic Systems Inc., accessed 2 Feb 2010
  10. ^ General Atomics Energy Products web site, accessed 22 Feb 2010
  11. ^ TRIGA, University of Utah, accessed 7 May 2010
  12. ^ GA-SI website, accessed 1 May 2010
  13. ^ ConverDyn web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010
  14. ^ Cotter Corporation web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010
  15. ^ Beverley mine, Heathgate Resources web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010
  16. ^ Nuclear Fuels Corporation, accessed 09 Jul 2013
  17. ^ Rio Grande Resources Corporation, accessed 09 Jul 2013
  18. ^ Spezialtechnik Dresden and Subsidiaries, accessed 09 Jul 2013
  19. ^ California Institute of Technology web site, "29th Annual International von Karman Wings Award"
  20. ^ Press Release, "Frost & Sullivan Recognizes GA-ASI as the Outstanding Provider of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Tactical Reconnaissance Radars for the U.S. Armed Forces"
  21. ^ "Firms Seek Strategies for Riding Out Downturn"
  22. ^ Press Release, "GA-ASI Earns Frost & Sullivan's Recognition for Business Development Strategy Leadership for Gains in Unmanned Aerial Systems Market"
  23. ^ 2004 Aerospace Award Recipients, Air Force Association
  24. ^ "AUVSI Foundation Awards Program"
  25. ^ "General Atomics Media Information"

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°53′37″N 117°14′04″W / 32.893721°N 117.234550°W / 32.893721; -117.234550