The new Protector unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to be fielded by the United Kingdom has been revealed as the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) Certifiable Predator B (CPB), a Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract notification has shown.
According to a justification for a sole-source award notification published on 24 April, the MoD has given GA-ASI a GBP415 million (USD605 million) contract for the CPB UAV that is set to run from 30 September 2016 to 31 October 2023. While the award did not disclose numbers, the UK government has previously said 20 such vehicles will be procured.
"The Unmanned Air Systems Team … of the UK Ministry of Defence intends to acquire the Protector unmanned aerial system through a government-government Foreign Military Sales contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD). The MoD has conducted a thorough Assessment Phase that has concluded that the CPB is the only system capable of achieving UK Military Type Certification and delivering the Protector requirement within the required timescales. The only means of acquiring the CPB is through a contract with the US DoD," the MoD said.
Company literature gives the GA-ASI CPB a maximum operating altitude of 45,000 ft (compared with 50,000 ft for the Reaper), a maximum endurance of more than 40 hours (compared with 27 hours for the Reaper), and a maximum air speed of 200 kt (compared with 240 kt for the Reaper). It would appear from these specifications that the United Kingdom is prioritising increased endurance and persistence. The CPB also has nine external stories stations, compared with five for the Reaper.
The still-developmental CPB builds on the Reaper and is capable of carrying multiple-mission payloads that include a detect-and-avoid (DAA) system. This DAA system features space, weight, and power provisions to enable the retrofitting of an airborne due-regard radar for operation in segregated airspace.
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