Update: RAF flies Protector in UK airspace for first time

by Gareth Jennings

The first flight of the Protector RG1 in UK airspace saw the unmanned aircraft fly within the confines of the airspace over RAF Waddington, and under full human control. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has flown for the first time in national airspace the recently received General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B Protector RG1 medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The milestone was announced by the service on 17 November, with the first flight understood to have taken place some days earlier.

“Achieving the first flight of Protector in UK Airspace is a fitting milestone for this phase of testing,” Group Captain Al Rutledge, RAF programme director for Protector, was quoted as saying. “We will now build on this success and look forward to the next test and evaluation phase as part of our preparations for the in-service date later next year.”

As noted in the announcement, the first flight took place within the airspace of the type's future home operating base of RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, and saw the air vehicle controlled at all times by a pilot on the ground.


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General Atomics XQ-67A Off-Board Sensing Station conducts first flight

by Zach Rosenberg

The XQ-67A in flight (location unknown). (GA-ASI)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has flown the XQ-67A unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the first time, the company announced on 29 February.

“Flight demonstration of this system is a major first step towards showing the ability to produce affordable combat mass,” said Trenton White, Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL's) Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) programme manager, in a statement announcing the flight.

The flight took place on 28 February at GA-ASI's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility, outside Palmdale, California.

It comes a year after the AFRL selected GA-ASI to build the XQ-67A under the OBSS programme, intended to result in a UAV that could fly ahead of manned aircraft and pass data back, effectively extending their ability to detect and track targets.

“OBSS is the first aircraft type built and flown using a common core chassis developed by GA-ASI that promotes commonality across multiple vehicle types,” said Michael Atwood, GA-ASI vice-president of advanced programmes.


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Indian MoD to procure 5G-enabled surveillance UAVs

by Oishee Majumdar & Rakend P

The Indian MoD is procuring an undisclosed number of Jaga unmanned aerial vehicles (pictured) from Noida-based IG Drones to enhance the surveillance capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces. (IG Drones)

Noida-based IG Drones has secured a contract from the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide its 5G-enabled Jaga unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to enhance the surveillance capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces.

A spokesperson for IG Drones told Janes on 28 February that the company plans to complete the supply of an undisclosed number of its Jaga UAVs to the Indian MoD by the end of May.

The spokesperson said that Jaga is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) quadcopter that “can be deployed from any terrain without the need for a conventional runway”. The UAV has an endurance of five hours, a speed of 18–21 m/s, and an operating altitude of up to 400 ft above ground level, the spokesperson added.


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Singapore to acquire eight F-35A fighters in addition to 12 F-35B variants

by Ridzwan Rahmat

A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft takes off with a payload of GBU-12 bombs during an exercise in 2021. Singapore is procuring eight F-35A airframes in addition to the 12 F-35Bs announced earlier. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Singapore will procure eight conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft in addition to the 12 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) versions it is acquiring.

The matter was confirmed by Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during a parliamentary address on 28 February and through statements issued via his and the Ministry of Defence's (MINDEF's) official social media channels on the same day.

“Globally, there are close to 2,500 F35s on order, a healthy pipeline. Because of that, the F-35 is now priced more competitively, comparable to the F-15EX. Its battlefield successes have prompted more countries to jump onboard the programme. MINDEF will capitalise on this window of opportunity to accelerate our F-35 programme,” Ng said.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/update-raf-flies-protector-in-uk-airspace-for-first-time

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has flown for the first time in national airspace the recently received...

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