RAF to begin UK-based Protector UAS trials in July

by Gareth Jennings

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is to launch United Kingdom-based trials later this year geared at facilitating the entry into service of its General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) Protector RG1 medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

An artist’s impression of the Protector RG1 in RAF service. (General Atomics via Janes/Gareth Jennings)

An artist’s impression of the Protector RG1 in RAF service. (General Atomics via Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The service announced on 3 February that a company-owned MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aerial system (UAS), on which the Protector is based, will arrive at the type’s future home operating base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, in July.

“Operating in the UK will assist in the development of the revolutionary detect and avoid technology which will permit Protector to fly in all UK airspace safely. It will also allow the RAF to refine the requirements needed to fully integrate Protector operations into Waddington where the remotely pilot air system will operate alongside the based fixed-wing aircraft,” the RAF said.

During its UK stay, the SkyGuardian will participate in the multinational Exercise ‘Joint Warrior’, as well as undertake a series of capability demonstrations to partners and allies.

News of the planned arrival of the SkyGuardian into RAF Waddington comes two-and-a-half years after the type made its UK debut with an appearance at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in July 2018, and four months after the first Protector made its maiden flight in the United States in September 2020.

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The Royal Air Force (RAF) is to launch United Kingdom-based trials later this year geared at facilit...

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