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Royal Air Force Protector UAS takes to UK skies

17th November 2023 - 17:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


All RAF Protector UAS are expected to be delivered and in service by July 2025. (Photo: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

The Protector UAS will be fitted with detect-and-avoid capabilities and it is in line to receive certification to fly in non-segregated airspace.

A UK Royal Air Force (RAF) General Atomics Protector RG Mk1 surveillance, intelligence and precision strike UAS has taken to British skies for the first time, marking an important step in the country’s effort to get its ordered fleet of 16 systems into service.

The aircraft arrived in the UK in September and the flight took place from RAF Waddington where it is undergoing a series of trials and tests before entering the RAF fleet. The systems are planned to replace MQ-9A Reapers.

The aircraft has been in RAF hands since mid-2021 but previous testing and evaluation was carried out in the US.

The MoD said in a statement in mid-2020 that weapons testing would take place in the UK.

While no detailed plans for the UK weapons tests were released at the time a Parliamentary statement confirmed they are set to begin following full operational capability of the aircraft. Protector is planned to be armed with MBDA Brimstone 2 air-to-surface missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.

The delivery of 15 further aircraft from General Atomics to the UK will be phased over two years. All aircraft are expected to in service by Jul 2025.

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