General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that it has signed a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in order to undertake the remaining test and evaluation activities required to certify the Protector RG Mk1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) system for operaton in UK civil airspace. The contract also contains provisions for other aspects of the program, including X-band SATCOM system verification, training material development and logistics planning.
The Protector RG Mk1 UAS (unmanned aerial system) is based on GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian, a civilian airspace-certifiable version of the MQ-9 Reaper drone. The UK RAF are currently conducting ongoing evaluation of the Protector system using two SkyGuardian test aircraft and a Protector cockpit. Delivery of the finished system is expected in the early 2020s.
GA-ASI has developed a special Detect and Avoid (DAA) system for the Protector that consists of a Due Regard air-to-air Radar and processor, integrated with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The unmanned aircraft is also designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, with lightning protection, damage tolerance, and a de-icing system.
“This completes another important milestone as we work towards the delivery of Protector to the Royal Air Force (RAF),” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “We have completed more than 100 qualification test flights using our two company-owned SkyGuardian RPA.”
“The testing and evaluation phase of the Protector programme is an important element that ensures the safe delivery of this next generation capability,” said RAF Group Captain Lyndon Jones, Protector RG Mk1 Programme Director. “The Royal Air Force will continue its strong relationship with GA-ASI to ensure leading edge and innovative technology, such as Detect and Avoid (DAA), is integrated into Protector.”