Protector passes system testing milestone

Royal Air Force Protector RG1 Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) development has passed another key milestone in the project with completion of a series of system level tests by its manufacturer, General Atomics- Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI).

Tests, all completed by GA-ASI over in the US, included electromagnetic, environmental and full-scale static testing of Protector. 

After the passing of multiple system level tests, the GA-ASI Protector is one step closer in providing  ISTAR capabilities to the RAF from its future station, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. Josef Campion

Electromagnetic testing for the Protector took place at the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects Test Facility at US Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft was subject to high intensity electromagnetic radiation across the whole operational electromagnetic spectrum. The radiation tests also included hazards of electromagnetic radiation on ordnance (HERO) testing of the weapon outload of the Protector. 

The Protector faced extreme cold weather testing down to -33°C during the environmental stage of the series. It also faced in-flight ice, supercooled fog, in-flight rain, high humidity and high temperature with solar load tests. These were carried out at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. 

The Protector seen at its future operating base, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, during a test and trial series with the RAF. The Protector will be the first RPAS aircraft to operate in civillian uk and international airspace. Josef Campion

Multiple stress tests on the Protector were carried out during the full-scale static testing at GA-ASI’s facility in Desert Horizons, California. The airframe was tested with 150% of the highest expected operational loads. Testing all the major structures of the airframe, these tests verified whether the aircraft could perform safely when operated at maximum flight speed and g-forces. This was a key example of demonstrating why the Protector will be the first RPAS to be certified to eventually fly in UK and International airspace.

Gp Capt Shaun Gee, Director Air ISTAR Programmes, said: "It is exciting to see the progress of the Protector Programme. GA-ASI has provided support, not only in testing of the aircraft, but in developing this game-changing Remotely Piloted Air System.”