Test contract signed for Protector

THE MINISTRY of Defence has signed a contract worth around £100m to complete testing of the Protector RG1 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

Under the Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) deal, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) will evaluate the aircraft against the UK’s capability and certification requirements prior to planned full operational capability in 2024. The contract also funds additional Protector programme elements, including X-band SATCOM system verification, training materiel development and logistics planning.

MQ-9B SkyGuardian [Khalem Chapman]
GA-ASI MQ-9B SkyGuardian N190TC, a test aircraft for Protector, lands at RAF Fairford for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2018, after successfully completing the worlds first transatlantic crossing by an RPA. Khalem Chapman

Replacing the Reaper aircraft, the Protector will be certified to operate in civilian airspace. The first Protector will be delivered to the RAF in October 2021. The RPA will be based at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, where a planned investment of £93m will add a new purpose-built hangar as well new facilities and crew accommodation.

GA-ASI has already completed more than 100 qualification test flights using two company-owned MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAs.