First MQ-9B Protector drone arrives at Royal Air Force Waddington base

Source: RAF, Defence Industry Europe

The first of 16 Protector aircraft, the RAF’s latest Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS), has arrived at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.


Equipped with a suite of surveillance equipment, Protector brings a critical global surveillance capability for the RAF. Remotely piloted from RAF Waddington it can operate at heights up to 40,000 feet and has an endurance of over 30 hours.

Arriving last month, 31 Squadron have assembled the aircraft and are preparing it for ground and air testing ahead of its anticipated In-Service date later in 2024.

“The UK’s world-class Protector will emphasise our ultra-modern surveillance and intelligence capabilities, ready to deploy against potential adversaries around the globe. With the first aircraft at RAF Waddington ready to begin trials, we will once again demonstrate we are spearheading military defence technology,” said James Cartlidge, UK Minister of Defence Procurement.


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The first phase of Protector testing at RAF Waddington will involve ground testing of the satellite links and taxi procedures as well as take-off and landing procedures which will incorporate a circuit above RAF Waddington. Arrival of 15 further aircraft into the UK will be a phased delivery.

In addition to accepting the operational roles currently undertaken by Reaper, which has provided exceptional service on operations around the clock for over 15 years, Protector will be certified to stringent NATO safety and certification standards allowing to operate in the UK and European civilian airspace.




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