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UK Ministry of Defense signs £65m contract for first three protector aircraft


Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has signed a £65 million contract to build the UK’s first three Protector aircraft - the first UK operated system capable of strike missions anywhere in the world.

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UK Ministry Of Defense signs 65m contract for first three protector aircraft 925 002 UK’s first three Protector aircraft. (Picture source: UK MoD)


After a successful development phase Protector is set to enter service by mid-2024, meaning that the Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) will deliver a step-change in capability for the RAF.

Protector is the world’s first certified RPAS, enabling it to fly in busy, unsegregated airspace, including civilian airspace, thanks to its ground-breaking ‘sense and avoid’ technology.

The contract was announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace at the virtual 2020 Air and Space Power Conference. He said: “The UK is proving once again that we are a world leader in defence technology. Protector will provide the RAF with vast global reach, meeting the UK’s defence and security needs for decades to come, and provides another increase to the unmanned inventory for the Armed Forces.


UK Ministry Of Defense signs 65m contract for first three protector aircraft 925 003UK’s first three Protector aircraft. (Picture source: UK MoD)


The cutting-edge aircraft, which will replace the current Reaper RPAS force, will be deployed in wide-ranging Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations from its base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.

Its ability to fly consistently for up to 40 hours will offer the RAF vastly improved armed intelligence and reconnaissance sorties.

The innovative fleet will also have advanced anti-icing and lightning protection, providing the RAF with unprecedented flexibility to operate in extreme weather conditions.