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Royal Air Force begins training instructors on Protector UAV simulator in the US

31st August 2023 - 16:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The RAF has begun training instructors for its future Protector RG1 UAS fleet. (Photo: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

Personnel from the RAF's 54 Squadron are currently undertaking the first Instructor Operating Course (IOC) on Protector simulators at the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) Flight Test & Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

The IOC crews, comprising pilot, sensor operator, and mission intelligence controller (MIC), have been testing various scenarios using the simulators, under the tuition of GA-ASI instructors.

Simulated missions include ISR activity to locate and track designated targets on the ground, with the pilot maintaining an optimum position in the air.

The objective of the course is to create RAF-specific training material and scenarios for Protector crews.

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The Protector RG1 is a variant of the RQ-9B SkyGuardian and is due to enter service in mid-2024, achieve FOC in 2026 and be employed in ISTAR and strike operations from their base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.

The programme aims to replace the MQ-9As in the RAF's inventory with the improved MQ-9B, delivering a UK sovereign capability for deep and persistent armed ISTAR out to the late 2030s, that will encompass long-range, persistent wide-area surveillance and precision strike capabilities.

The UK Protector programme is aiming to create and support an International Training Centre (ITC) at RAF Waddington.

An MoD statement from 2021 noted: 'Housing the Synthetic Training System for the aircraft, the centre will enable crews from the RAF and international partners to conduct a significant amount of their training in a secure environment, linking in future with the Defence Collective Training environment under the UK Gladiator programme.'

Synthetic training equipment for the ITC will be provided by CAE as the training partner for General Atomics. CAE previously provided training centres for the MQ-9 in Italy and the UAE.

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