Military Review

UAV Protector RG Mk 1 went to flight tests

UAV Protector RG Mk 1 went to flight tests

American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) began flight tests of the promising unmanned aerial vehicle Protector RG Mk 1. This machine is being created by order of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain and will be handed over to the customer next year.

Pre-flight contract

Back in 2016, the Royal Air Force of Great Britain announced their intention to modernize the fleet of medium-altitude UAVs with a long flight duration in the future. The main contender for the future contract was the American company GA-ASI. In 2018, she provided for testing an experienced drone of the new modification MQ-9B Sky Guardian. The car as a whole suited the British, but additional requirements were put forward to finalize the project. The UAV modification for KVVS received the designation Protector RG Mk 1.

In early 2020, they announced the completion of design work and the construction of a prototype. In mid-July, before the start of testing the prototype, KVVS announced the signing of a contract for the supply of serial equipment. In accordance with the document, by 2024 GA-ASI will deliver three drones, the same number of ground command posts and a set of other means. There is also an option for 13 UAVs and 4 control points.

Prospective vehicles Protector RG Mk 1 in the foreseeable future will have to complement the KVVS MQ-9A Reaper products. The emergence of three such complexes will provide a significant renewal and strengthening of the cash group, and the implementation of the option in the future will make it possible to decommission the obsolete equipment.

During testing

At the end of September, GA-ASI announced its latest achievements and plans for the future. So, on September 25, the first flight of the Protector drone for the KVVS took place. The vehicle with the internal designation UK1 has confirmed its high performance characteristics and now it has to undergo new tests.

UAV Protector RG Mk 1 UK1 is actually the fourth sample of the MQ-9B type. The three previous machines belong to the development company and are intended for testing or demonstrating technology to potential customers. Thus, the UK1 product is the first representative of its design, built for a specific customer as part of an order.

In the coming months, GA-ASI will conduct preliminary factory tests of the drone. Next year, the car will be transferred to the UK Department of Defense, but after that it will remain in the United States. Under the terms of the existing agreements, in 2021 the British Air Force and Air Force will begin joint testing of equipment. It is expected that, based on their results, the KVVS will take a ready-made drone into operation, and the American army will sign the first contract for such equipment.

Joint tests will last until 2023, after which the Protector UK1 will go into service. In 2023-24. it will be followed by two other cars. Probably, by this time the fate of the option will be decided - and at the same time the future of the existing UAV MQ-9A fleet. At the same time, it is argued that even the first batch of equipment will provide a sharp increase in the combat and operational capabilities of the unmanned air force group. It has already been announced that the 31st KVVS squadron will become the operator of the new technology, regardless of its quantity.

Benefits of modernization

The Protector RG Mk 1 / MQ-9B is a deeply modernized version of the basic MQ-9A with a number of important advantages. The airframe and the main on-board systems have undergone refinement, due to which an increase in flight technical and operational characteristics has been obtained, as well as the permissible conditions of use and the range of tasks to be solved have been expanded.

The "Protector" glider received a new wing with a span of 24 meters and winglets - instead of the 20-meter one of the MQ-9A. This led to an increase in lift, and also increased the maximum flight duration to 40 hours. During the tests of the MQ-9B, an experiment was carried out - an experimental vehicle without a special load remained in the air for two days.

The upgraded glider received an anti-icing system and lightning protection equipment. As a result, the UAV has become more resistant to difficult weather conditions, which in a number of situations allows flight and / or simplifies operation.

Avionics have been modernized. The main innovation is the collision avoidance system. Its presence reduces restrictions and allows the use of UAVs in airspace with active traffic, incl. civil. Accordingly, it simplifies the organization and execution of flights when performing various tasks. Improved flight control devices. In addition, the ground control post underwent modernization.

MQ-9B retained the ability to carry various payloads in the form of surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. There is a gyro-stabilized platform with optoelectronic devices; some modifications can carry compact radars. At the same time, the development of new payload modules with increased characteristics is reported. Accordingly, the modernized UAV will be able to solve old tasks with greater efficiency.

The special requirements of the KVVS were mainly reflected in the range of weapons. The Protector RG Mk 1 is to carry MBDA Brimstone guided air-to-ground missiles and Paveway IV guided bombs - the standard weapons for the British military. aviation... The basic modification of the MQ-9B retains the nomenclature of its predecessor based on AGM-114 missiles and Paveway bombs.

Present and future

At the moment, the British fleet of heavy UAVs MQ-9A Reaper consists of only 9 machines, and also includes several control points and various support equipment. In 2023-24. three new machines will be put into operation, which will lead to quantitative and qualitative growth. Conversion of the option into a firm contract is highly likely. Such measures will allow in the future to replace aging drones, as well as to almost double the size of the group.

The UK Department of Defense highly appreciates the prospects for both the upgraded drone and the rearmament unit. During the signing of the supply contract, it was noted that the new UAVs will be able to serve and effectively perform their tasks over the next several decades. "Protectors" will increase the main combat capabilities of the KVVS, since they will be able to stay in the air for many hours and conduct surveillance, attack or provide command and control.

For GA-ASI, the UK contract is of great importance, but it is not the only one of its kind. So, MQ-9B interested the armed forces of Australia and Belgium. Deliveries of new equipment to these countries will begin in the foreseeable future. According to the results of the tests begun, the US Air Force may become the next customer of the drone. Interest from other countries is possible. So far, contracts and options do not differ in large volumes, but in the future a portfolio of orders for tens of units of equipment is expected.

Thus, one of the main projects of General Atomics is moving to a new stage, which promises serious profits. In the coming years, after the completion of the necessary tests, the deeply modernized UAV will reach the series and operation in the troops. Formally, the first operator of the MQ-9B / Protector RG Mk 1 will be the UK, and more countries will follow.
Photos used:
21 comment
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 7 October 2020 18: 08
    The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) took off for the first time in 2001, but the world has never made a direct analogue. Its parameters are reached only by twin-engine UAVs.
    1. stone
      stone 8 October 2020 09: 46
      Israeli Hermes-900 and Heron-TR are direct analogues. Single-engine, long flight duration, with a bunch of bells and whistles, two have already been flying and sold.
      1. OgnennyiKotik
        OgnennyiKotik 8 October 2020 10: 01
        Hermes -900 is a direct analogue of the MQ-1.
        IAI Eitan (Heron TP) - good, but more on the exploration side.
        1. stone
          stone 8 October 2020 11: 40
          No, not in the direction of intelligence. There, of course, there is combat functionality and there is something to put essssno, it's just that the Israelis really do not like to talk about the combat component of their drones traditionally.
    2. Zaurbek
      Zaurbek 9 October 2020 14: 06
      The Turks are lifting into the air with 2 Ukrainian theaters.
  2. Tsoy
    Tsoy 7 October 2020 18: 13
    It's funny that England immediately after the tests declared that the protector is the most well-armed ripper in the world. Only a few days later, the USA tested their rippers with 8 helfair missiles instead of 4 missiles and 2 bombs. And everything was decided there by updating the software without serious improvements.

    The car is serious. 40 hours with weapons on board is impressive.

    The United States is going to use other drones as payloads on UAVs. Moreover, with the possibility of returning under the wing after completing the mission. They go further and further into the development of uavs and try to find them as many areas of application as possible.
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 7 October 2020 18: 15
      Just today, a video was released about these drones. Good shots with different types of load.
      1. Tsoy
        Tsoy 7 October 2020 19: 27
        today a video was released about these drones. Good shots with different types of

        And the media in the video along the way is the same that they put up for the tender to replace the ripper.
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 7 October 2020 19: 33
          Quote: Choi
          media in video

          I do not understand
        2. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 7 October 2020 19: 57
          There are many modifications of the MQ-9, with radar and weapons.
          There is only a press release by Sparrowhawk and this is a photo.
          1. Tsoy
            Tsoy 7 October 2020 20: 51
            Encrypted. Is this a gremlin?
            1. OgnennyiKotik
              OgnennyiKotik 7 October 2020 20: 58
              Gremlin is the name of the program of returnable UAVs and the carriers themselves. There are various products. The most famous and first made by Dynetics X-61.

  3. Bez 310
    Bez 310 8 October 2020 07: 44
    Where are our similar UAVs?
    Or are we, as always, going our own special way?
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 8 October 2020 08: 39
      It seems like Orion (analogue of RQ-1) went to the army. The first 3 were aired this year. But ...
      1. Elturisto
        Elturisto 8 October 2020 10: 03
        And what about the Orion's power plant - the godless Rotax?
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 8 October 2020 10: 06
          They say they made our analogue, but I don't believe something.
          1. Elturisto
            Elturisto 8 October 2020 10: 10
            Yes, apparently Chinese clones or copies of the Rotaxes.
            1. OgnennyiKotik
              OgnennyiKotik 8 October 2020 10: 13
              Now they do it. They buy all the components of the engine, assemble them from us, change minor parts for ours (wires) and our engine turns out.
              1. madrobot
                madrobot 8 October 2020 13: 27
                Where is this done? OBS again?
  4. Razvedka_Boem
    Razvedka_Boem 9 October 2020 17: 58
    Sometimes in the comments they write - where is something like that in Russia? ..
    The development of weapons is dictated by the policy pursued by the state.
    Such drones were simply not needed by the USSR and then Russia of the dashing 90s model ..
    The development of the fleet and similar unmanned systems is dictated primarily by the expansion policy.
    And this includes everything - collecting spy information, recruiting, blackmailing, direct political and military pressure, etc.
    And the answer to them appeared when Russia decided that it was time to promote its interests.
    I think in five years, Russian drones will be at least as good as American ones.
    1. sh3roman
      sh3roman 26 October 2020 20: 59
      30 years!!!! They cannot upgrade the corn maker !!!! How old are you to believe in fairy tales ????? In the household store there are already Chinese screws !!!!! we can do that, lo, but without fucking we can no longer storytellers damn