General Atomics

Coordinates: 32°53′37″N 117°14′04″W / 32.89361°N 117.23444°W / 32.89361; -117.23444
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32°53′37″N 117°14′04″W / 32.89361°N 117.23444°W / 32.89361; -117.23444

General Atomics
Company typePrivate
IndustryEnergy, defense, aerospace industry, and technology
FoundedJuly 18, 1955; 68 years ago (1955-07-18)
HeadquartersSan Diego, California, United States
Key people
J. Neal Blue
Linden S. Blue
ProductsUnmanned aerial vehicles, SiGA, EM2, EMALS, AAG, Predator, Gray Eagle, Reaper
Revenue2,750,000,000 United States dollar (2018) Edit this on Wikidata
Number of employees
DivisionsEnergy, Electromagnetic Systems
SubsidiariesGeneral Atomics Aeronautical Systems, General Atomics Systems Integration, Diazyme, ConverDyn, Cotter, Nuclear Fuels Corporation

General Atomics (GA) is an American energy and defense corporation headquartered in San Diego, California that specializes in research and technology development. This includes physics research in support of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion energy. The company also provides research and manufacturing services for remotely operated surveillance aircraft, including the Predator drones, airborne sensors, and advanced electric, electronic, wireless, and laser technologies.


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

General Atomics was founded on July 18, 1955, in San Diego, California, by Frederic de Hoffmann with assistance from notable physicists Edward Teller and Freeman Dyson.[1] Originally the company was part of the General Atomic division of General Dynamics "for harnessing the power of nuclear technologies for the benefit of mankind".[citation needed][2]

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 1956, 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]

General Atomics's initial projects were the TRIGA nuclear research reactor, which was designed so that it was guaranteed to be safe by the laws of nature,[1][3] and Project Orion.[4]

GA helped develop and run the San Diego Supercomputer Center.[5]

A brief history of the company:

  • 1967: Sold to Gulf Oil and renamed "Gulf General Atomic".[citation needed]
  • 1973: Renamed "General Atomic Company" when Royal Dutch Shell Group's Scallop Nuclear Inc. became a 50–50 partner.[6]
  • 1979: Harold Agnew appointed president and CEO.
  • 1982: Renamed "GA Technologies Inc" when Gulf bought out its partner.[7][6]
  • 1984: Taken ownership of by Chevron following its merger with Gulf Oil.[citation needed]
  • 1986: Sold to a company owned by Neal Blue and Linden Blue. Assumed its current name.[8]
  • 1987: Joined by former US Navy Rear Admiral, Thomas J. Cassidy Jr.[9]
  • 1993: Awarded the "Information Services" portion of the NSF contract for InterNIC functions[10] and publishes Internet Scout Report.[11]
  • 1993: Spawned General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), with Neal Blue as Chairman-CEO and Thomas J. Cassidy as president.[citation needed]
  • 1994: GA-ASI spun off as an affiliate.[12]
  • 1995: Ended role as provider of InterNIC Information Services.[citation needed]

On March 15, 2010, Rear Adm. Thomas J. 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.[13][9]

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.[14]

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, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics-NASSCO.[15]

In September 2020, a $7.4 billion contract for MQ-9 Reaper drones was announced between the U.S. Air Force and General Atomics. The contract calls for the delivery of up to 36 aircraft per year.[16]


General Atomics is led by chairman and CEO Neal Blue and his brother, Linden Blue.[17]

Linden P. Blue is the chief executive officer of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), the division responsible for manufacturing and selling the Reaper UAV.[18] Dave R. Alexander is the President of GA-ASI.[19]

Scott Forney is the President of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS).[20]

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 railgun), and magnetic levitation transportation systems.
    • Nuclear Technology & Materials (NTM)
  • Energy Group[21]

Affiliated companies[edit]

The Predator UAV is made by General Atomics affiliate General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.
  • General Atomics Aeronautical 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, Inc. (GA-ESI) – consists of five product lines involving different aspects of energy.[22][23]
    • 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.[24]
    • 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),[25] 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) – 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.[26]
  • ConverDyn – provides uranium hexafluoride (UF6) conversion and related services to utilities operating nuclear power plants in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company coordinates and manages all aspects of the conversion process, including uranium deliveries, uranium sampling, materials storage, and product delivery.[27] Jointly owned by Honeywell Inc.
  • Cotter Corporation – 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.[28]
  • 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.[29]
  • 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 US 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.[30]
  • 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.[31]
  • TRIGA International (with CERCA, a subsidiary of Areva)
  • Spezialtechnik Dresden GmbH – STD partners with General Atomics to market the Predator drone in Germany.[32]

On 30 September 2020, General Atomics bought the Dornier 228 production line in Oberpfaffenhofen, along with the business aviation and helicopter MRO operations of RUAG, pending regulatory approval.[33]

Educational outreach[edit]

Since 1992, the General Atomics Science Education Outreach Program,[34] 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[35]
  • 2008 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Company of the Year[36]
  • 2008 Defense News Top 100, Ranked #57[37]
  • Frost & Sullivan 2006 Business Development Strategy Leadership Award, presented for Gains in the Unmanned Aerial Systems Market[38]
  • 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 US 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.[39]
  • AUVSI's 2002 Pioneer Award, presented to President/CEO Thomas J. Cassidy Jr.[40]
  • USAF's 2001 Packard Award for Development & Engineering, presented for Predator/Hellfire Integration[41]

Government influence[edit]

Since 2005, the Center for Responsible Politics reported General Atomics had spent over $1.5 million per year in lobbying efforts from 2005 to 2011.[42]

In April 2002, the company paid for Letitia White, who was then a top aide to Representative Jerry Lewis, and her husband to travel to Italy. White left Lewis' office nine months later, to become a lobbyist at Copeland Lowery. The next day, she began representing General Atomics. Lewis, her former boss, was at the time chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dyson, Freeman. "Edward Teller: A Biographical Memoir" (PDF). National Academy of Science. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. ^ "About". General Atomics.
  3. ^ ""Introduction to TRIGA Reactors"", IAEA Education and Training - Nuclear Safety and Security, International Atomic Energy Authority, April 27, 2005, retrieved September 21, 2016
  4. ^ Ross, F.W. (1960). Propulsive System Specific Impulse. General Atomics GAMD-1293 8 Feb. 1960. San Diego, California, US: General Atomics.
  5. ^ Beck, Alan (22 March 1996). "General Atomics & UCSD end supercomputer center partnership". HPC Wire. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Gulf takes over most of General Atomic". United Press International. 1982-11-01.
  7. ^ "Gulf to Obtain General Atomic". The New York Times. 1981-12-22.
  8. ^ "Denver Firm to Pay More Than $50 Million : Energy Company to Buy GA Technologies". Los Angeles Times. 1986-08-14.
  9. ^ a b "General Atomics' Cassidy retires from presidency". Chicago Tribune. 2010-03-16.
  10. ^ FYI: US NIC changes or non-changes (mailing list message), Ripe, archived from the original on February 7, 2012
  11. ^ Scout, Wisc
  12. ^ Profile: General Atomics, Answers
  13. ^ "Unmanned aircraft pioneer Thomas J. Cassidy Jr. retires", The Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2010, retrieved March 16, 2010
  14. ^ EM2, General Atomics, retrieved October 18, 2010
  15. ^ Kovatch, Gretel C. (September 26, 2013), "Report: Defense spending likely to drop", The San Diego Union Tribune
  16. ^ Adamczyk, Ed (2020). “General Atomics nets $7.4B MQ-9 Reaper contract with U.S. Air Force.” UPI. Retrieved September 23, 2020
  17. ^ General Atomics Corporation. "Neal Blue". Neal Blue. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  18. ^ "Linden P. Blue". International Institute for Strategic Studies. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  19. ^ "David R. Alexander Bio – AmCham Abu Dhabi". AmChamAbuDhabi. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  20. ^ "Scott Forney". World Utilities Congress. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  21. ^ Energy Group, GA, archived from the original on 2009-10-04, retrieved 2009-09-02
  22. ^ General Atomics Electronic Systems (Web site), retrieved January 19, 2010
  23. ^ About, General Atomics Electronic Systems, retrieved February 2, 2010
  24. ^ General Atomics Energy Products (Web site), archived from the original on January 27, 2010, retrieved February 22, 2010
  25. ^ TRIGA, University of Utah, retrieved May 7, 2010
  26. ^ GA-SI (Website), retrieved May 1, 2010
  27. ^ ConverDyn (Web site), retrieved January 19, 2010
  28. ^ Cotter Corporation (Web site), US, archived from the original on April 13, 2010, retrieved January 19, 2010
  29. ^ Beverley mine, AU: Heathgate Resources, archived from the original on October 26, 2009, retrieved January 19, 2010
  30. ^ Nuclear Fuels Corporation, GA, archived from the original on December 1, 2013, retrieved July 9, 2013
  31. ^ Rio Grande Resources Corporation, GA, archived from the original on July 19, 2013, retrieved July 9, 2013
  32. ^ Kampf um Kampfdrohnen: Entscheidet sich die Bundeswehr doch noch für die "Predator"?, DE:, June 2016, retrieved March 27, 2017
  33. ^ Murdo Morrison (16 October 2020). "General Atomics buys RUAG's Dornier 228 programme and German MRO business". Flightglobal.
  34. ^ "Fusion Education". Fusion Education. General Atomics. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  35. ^ 29th Annual International von Karman Wings Award, California Institute of Technology
  36. ^ Frost & Sullivan Recognizes GA-ASI as the Outstanding Provider of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Tactical Reconnaissance Radars for the US Armed Forces (press release), Frost
  37. ^ "Firms Seek Strategies for Riding Out Downturn", Defense news[dead link]
  38. ^ GA-ASI Earns Frost & Sullivan's Recognition for Business Development Strategy Leadership for Gains in Unmanned Aerial Systems Market (press release), Frost
  39. ^ Aerospace Award Recipients, Air Force Association, 2004, archived from the original on September 20, 2010
  40. ^ Awards Program, AUVSI Foundation, archived from the original on September 1, 2009
  41. ^ General Atomics ASI (PDF) (media information), AUVSI[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "General Atomics Lobbying Profile". OpenSecrets.
  43. ^ "The San Diego Union-Tribune - San Diego, California & National News". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 7, 2006.


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