Protector, the UK’s future Remotely Piloted Aircraft System type, has flown to Creech Air Force Base.
The trip gave members of the RAF Reaper Force the opportunity to see the aircraft for the first time.
In a release, the Royal Air Force say that in so doing the aircraft, which flew to the Nevada base from Arizona, used its automatic take-off, landing and taxiing capability for the first time at another base within the US.
“The UK is committed to acquiring 16 Protector RG Mk1 aircraft to replace the existing Reaper fleet. Two squadrons currently operate Reaper, XIII Squadron based at RAF Waddington and 39 Squadron at Creech AFB.”
Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth, Air Officer Commanding No.1 Group said in a release:
“When we talk about ‘next generation Air Force’ one of the capabilities that we’re delivering is most definitely Protector. This idea that we’ll have an RPAS that can operate anywhere at any time in controlled airspace alongside airliners is an absolutely game changing capability.
The fact that we can do it with a platform that’s got 40 plus hours of endurance and a capability to deliver everything from very precise kinetic effect right through to varying payloads of intelligence gathering, taking that intelligence and then adding it into the decision making space, we then absolutely get to a point where we’re gaining what we’re now calling information advantage, an ability to stay ahead of whatever we need to stay ahead of.”
Looking ahead to the arrival of Protector RG Mk.1 into service, Wing Commander Colin Welsh, Officer Commanding 39 Squadron also said in the release:
“Protector for most of the team here is something which exists on paper and in pictures. So by allowing individuals to see the aircraft, to see the advanced Ground Control System and how the Mission Intelligence Coordinator and the crew will interact through a new system will be a fantastic motivator for the team to have a first-hand look at the next generation of this capability.”