A £195 million contract for an additional 13 cutting-edge Protector plane has been signed. Defence Minister Jeremy Quin introduced the brand new contract throughout a go to to GKN Aerospace (GKNA), who’re manufacturing key components of plane on the Isle of Wight. At GKNA’s Cowes web site, Minister Quin noticed first-hand how the programme advantages UK business as they manufacture the V-tails for Protector and different SkyGuardian variants for patrons internationally, together with Belgium and Australia, following their partnership with GA-ASI.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin mentioned: Our fleet of sixteen Protector plane outfitted with ultra-modern know-how will present the RAF with an enormous world attain permitting us to watch and shield the battlespace for hours on finish. The Protector programme includes business throughout the UK with important components of the plane manufactured on the Isle of Wight, supporting highly-skilled jobs for years to come back.


Defence Minister Jeremy Quin at GKN Aerospace on the Isle of Wight.

Protector is a Remotely Piloted Plane System (RPAS) that can present essential surveillance functionality for the RAF and will probably be outfitted with a set of surveillance tools and precision strike weapons to deploy in opposition to potential adversaries across the globe, all whereas being operated from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. 16 plane have now been ordered from Basic Atomics Aeronautical Methods Inc (GA-ASI) and are anticipated to enter service with the RAF by mid-2024, doubling the potential at the moment supplied by Reaper. The funding additionally contains 4 further floor management stations and related help tools.

The dedication to a 16-strong Protector fleet was outlined within the Defence Command Paper and is supported by the £24 billion uplift to the defence finances over the following 4 years. With 12 UK business companions, the programme is bringing collectively world-leading know-how and repair suppliers to work with GA-ASI, supporting over 200 UK jobs with £400 million being reinvested into UK business. Protector will probably be deployed in wide-ranging Intelligence, Surveillance, Focusing on and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations the place its capability to fly persistently for as much as 40 hours presents the RAF vastly improved armed ISTAR functionality.

Royal Air Force Protector Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
Royal Air Drive Protector Remotely Piloted Plane System

The primary three plane have been ordered final 12 months, with the primary two accomplished and at the moment present process take a look at and analysis within the US. The primary plane supply to the Royal Air Drive will probably be in 2023. The acquisition of an additional 13 Protector plane has been confirmed enabling us to make sure the RAF may have the elevated functionality wanted to function successfully within the fashionable battlespace. Later this 12 months, Protector’s functionality will probably be demonstrated within the UK. A SkyGuardian plane will take to the skies in Lincolnshire earlier than collaborating in Train Joint Warrior from RAF Lossiemouth.

Protector should meet stringent NATO and UK security certification requirements that means it might function in civilian airspace. It due to this fact may also be accessible, if requested, to help civilian businesses within the UK, for instance in search and rescue and catastrophe response missions. The fleet may also have superior anti-icing and lightning safety, offering the RAF with unprecedented flexibility to function in antagonistic climate circumstances. The plane will use enhanced knowledge hyperlinks and carry next-generation, low collateral, precision strike weapons – the UK-made Brimstone missile and Paveway IV Laser Guided Bomb.