MQ-9B Pro­tec­tor for the UK

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - World Aviation & Defence News -

en­eral Atomics Aero­nau­ti­cal Sys­tems has been awarded For­eign Mil­i­tary Sales con­tract by the US Air Force Life Cy­cle Man­age­ment Cen­tre for the United King­dom MQ-9B Pro­tec­tor un­manned air­craft sys­tem pro­gramme, which pro­vides for in­te­gra­tion and com­po­nent level test­ing for UK- spe­cific en­hance­ments to sup­port the MQ-9B Pro­tec­tor pro­gramme. GAASI per­formed the first flight of the MQ-9B con­fig­u­ra­tion less than two years ago, and the Re­motely Pi­loted Air­craft (RPA) has con­tin­ued to meet a se­ries of key qual­i­fi­ca­tion milestones.

Other im­por­tant MQ-9B milestones were achieved in 2017, in­clud­ing the first FAA-ap­proved flight for a com­pany-owned RPA through non-seg­re­gated airspace with­out a ‘chase air­craft,’ when the RPA flew from Yuma, Ari­zona to Gray Butte, Cal­i­for­nia in Au­gust 2017. Up­com­ing air­craft qual­i­fi­ca­tion milestones in­clude lightning pro­tec­tion tests, which are ex­pected within the next 60 days. A weaponised vari­ant of the sys­tem is be­ing ac­quired by the Royal Air Force (RAF) un­der the UK’s MQ-9B Pro­tec­tor pro­gramme. The MQ-9B Pro­tec­tor can fly in ex­cess of 40 hours with air­speed up to 210 knots, reach al­ti­tudes of more than 40,000 feet, and carry 4750lbs (2159 kg) of ex­ter­nal pay­load.

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