General Atomics Aerial Systems Inc., has signed a Direct Commercial Sale contract with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence to complete the test and evaluation activities required to certify the Protector RG Mk1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft system to fly in civil airspace.
The DCS contract also funds additional Protector programme elements, including X-band SATCOM system verification, training material development and logistics planning.
“This completes another important milestone as we work towards the delivery of Protector to the Royal Air Force,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “We have completed more than 100 qualification test flights using our two company-owned SkyGuardian RPA.”
MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the baseline RPA that will become the Protector RG Mk1 once delivered to the RAF. Delivery is expected in the early 2020s and RAF operators will continue to support evaluation activity for Protector using the two SkyGuardian test aircraft and the Protector cockpit.
“The testing and evaluation phase of the Protector program is an important element that ensures the safe delivery of this next generation capability,” said RAF Group Capt. Lyndon Jones, Protector RG Mk1 Program 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, is integrated into Protector.”
The GA-ASI-developed DAA system 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). Protector RG Mk1 is also being built for all-weather performance with lightning protection, damage tolerance, and a de-icing system.