This summer personnel at RAF Waddington will receive a glimpse of the future when a SkyGuardian aircraft, a pre-production example of the new Protector Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), will operate from the Lincolnshire station.
The UK has ordered the first three Protector RG Mk 1 systems (three aircraft, three ground control stations and supporting equipment) as the first phase of the acquisition, with the additional 13 aircraft, four ground control stations and support equipment expected this year.
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 RPAS will operate alongside the based fixed wing aircraft.
“The return of SkyGuardian, which will be known as Protector in RAF service in 2023, to the UK this summer offers an exciting glimpse of the future. Protector will be able to fly for up to 40 hours in civil airspace, meaning it will be able to deliver an array of military or civil support missions”
Air Commodore Richard Barrow
ACOS Capability C2ISR
The aircraft at Waddington this summer will be operated by the manufacturer, General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems. Known as SkyGuardian, it will participate in Joint Warrior, a multi-national large-scale military exercise in addition to undertaking a series of capability demonstrations to partners and allies.
Protector is an advanced, medium altitude long endurance (MALE) RPAS procured to replace the RAF’s Reaper. It will bring enhanced armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability, including extended range, increased payload and planned integration of UK weapons.
It will be the first RPAS to be designed, built and Certified against stringent NATO and UK Safety Certification standards equivalent to manned aircraft.
SkyGuardian will arrive at RAF Waddington in July.