Military Embedded Systems

Protector RG Mk1 unmanned aircraft completes first flight


September 30, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Associate Editor

Military Embedded Systems

GA-ASI photo.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) completed the first flight of the Protector RG Mk1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), the fourth MQ-9B SkyGuardian air vehicle (the first three MQ-9B air vehicles are company-owned assets supporting the certification qualification).

The first Protector RPAS, known within GA-ASI as UK1, will be used to support system testing as part of a combined UK Ministry of Defense, U.S. Air Force, and GA-ASI test team. Upon completion of this initial testing, UK1 will be delivered to the UK Ministry of Defense in the summer of 2021 but will remain in the United States to complete the Royal Air Force's test and evaluation program.

According to the company, the RPAS is available as the SkyGuardian, the maritime SeaGuardian (fitted with a multimode 360-degree field-of-regard Maritime Patrol Radar and optional sonobuoy capability), or as with the UK Protector, in a special customer-specified configuration.

The first MQ-9B customer delivery will be to the UK, but the RPAS has also been selected by the Belgian Defense and Australian Defence Force, the company claims.

MQ-9B development began in 2014 as a company-funded program to deliver an RPAS to meet NATO's stringent airworthiness type-certification standard (STANAG 4671). MQ-9B is provisioned for the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid System (DAAS) to enhance safety of operations in civil and military airspace. The MQ-9B is built for adverse-weather performance with lightning protection, a damage tolerant airframe, and a de-icing system, according to the company.

Unmanned - Test
Unmanned - ISR
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