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Protector UAV to Make Cross Atlantic to English Air Show

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Historic Trans-Atlantic Flight Planned for New Royal Air Force Aircraft

(Source: Royal Air Force; issued June 25, 2018)


An artist’s impression of the Protector, a new Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) ordered for the Royal Air Force which will fly non-stop from the United States to RAF Fairford in the UK on 11 July. (UK MoD photo)


The UK is the lead customer for the next-generation aircraft which will be known as the Protector RG Mk.1 when it enters service in the early 2020’s. Operated at all times by a fully qualified pilot, Protector is the World’s first RPAS to be designed, built and certified against stringent NATO and UK Safety Certification standards equivalent to manned aircraft.

The flight from North Dakota to Gloucestershire is likely to take over 20 hours and will be the first across the Atlantic by a Medium Altitude RPAS and the first time one has entered UK airspace under beyond line-of-sight communication control.

The Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb MP said: “Protector’s first arrival in the UK is an exciting milestone in our mission to get the most advanced equipment to combat the intensifying threats that we face. With almost double the endurance of its predecessor and armed with the latest missiles and surveillance technology, this unmanned aircraft will not only give us a decisive advantage on the battlefield but will help us reach new heights to keep Britain safe at home and overseas.”

Air Vice-Marshal Rochelle, Chief of Staff Capability said: “The first trans-Atlantic flight of the Protector reinforces the Royal Air Force as being at the forefront of cutting edge technology. Offering over 40 hours’ endurance Protector will provide the RAF with unrivalled intelligence gathering possibilities. The decision to expand our Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) fleet with this world leading aircraft will offer a game changing leap in capability and marks the next step in our modernisation in our 100th year.”

Protector is capable of supporting an array of homeland defence tasks, including Military Aid to Civil Authorities – for example search and rescue, disaster monitoring or flood prevention activities.

Remotely-piloted-air-system

For the first flight across the Atlantic to succeed the RAF provided guidance, advice and supervision of UK airspace procedures.

The aircraft will be placed on static display at the Royal International Air Tattoo, demonstrating a key component of the future of next generation RAF Air Power and UK leadership in this field.

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GA-ASI to Fly First Trans-Atlantic Flight of a MALE RPA

(Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.; issued June 25, 2018)

SAN DIEGO --- On July 10-11, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) plans to make the first-ever trans-Atlantic flight of a Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

GA-ASI’s company-owned MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA is scheduled to fly from the company’s Flight Test and Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA, to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK.

The aircraft will then be on static display July 13-15 for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) airshow being held at RAF Fairford. The flight and display will commemorate the RAF’s centenary celebration (RAF100).

“GA-ASI is proud to have supported the RAF over the past decade with our MQ-9 Reaper. In honor of the RAF100 celebration, and to demonstrate a new standard in RPA flight endurance, we will fly SkyGuardian across the Atlantic,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “Given the distinguished 100-year history of the RAF, we believe that this flight is an appropriate way to celebrate the RAF’s position as a leader in innovation.”

In 2017, GA-ASI and the RAF marked the 10-year anniversary of RAF MQ-9 operations, which coincided with the RAF completing 100,000 flight hours with its Reaper force. The entire Reaper fleet has completed over two million flight hours to date and is comprised of over 300 aircraft within the NATO alliance. The RAF is acquiring MQ-9B SkyGuardian as part of its PROTECTOR RG Mk1 program.

MQ-9B is the latest evolution of GA-ASI’s multi-mission Predator® B fleet. GA-ASI named its baseline MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian, and the maritime surveillance variant SeaGuardian. MQ-9B is a “certifiable” (STANAG 4671-compliant) version of the MQ-9 Predator B product line. Its development is the result of a five-year, company-funded effort to deliver a RPA that can meet the stringent airworthiness type-certification requirements of various military and civil authorities, including the UK Military Airworthiness Authority (MAA) and the U.S. FAA. Type-certification, together with an extensively tested collision avoidance system, will allow unrestricted operations in all classes of civil airspace.

Several important MQ-9B milestones were achieved in recent months, including the first FAA-approved flight for a company-owned RPA through non-segregated civil airspace without a chase aircraft, and an endurance record of more than 48 hours of continuous flight.

As part of the trans-Atlantic flight, GA-ASI has partnered with Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications (SATCOM) services. Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband SATCOM will be used by the MQ-9B’s ground control station to communicate and control the aircraft and also will be used in the RPA’s final configuration for capabilities such as automatic takeoff and landing.


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is the leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator RPA series and the Lynx Multi-mode Radar. With more than five million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike.

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Transatlantic Flight Ushers in New Era in Aviation

(Source: Air Tattoo.com; issued June 25, 2018)

A transatlantic flight by a civilian-registered Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) taking part in next month's Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire is set to usher in a new era in unmanned aviation.

As the first transatlantic RPA flight to land in the UK, it signals the beginning of a new chapter in the history of aviation and brings closer the possibility that one day, airlines may routinely operate aircraft remotely.

The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' MQ-9B SkyGuardian is due to take off from its base in North Dakota and embark on 4,000-mile journey to RAF Fairford piloted by an operator located at the aerospace company's Flight Test and Training Centre in Grand Forks. It has a wingspan of 79ft and can fly non-stop for in excess of 40 hours.

The aircraft, arriving in advance of the Royal International Air Tattoo on July 13-15, is scheduled to touch down in the UK on Wednesday, July 11. The CAA has approved SkyGuardian's flight in UK airspace and has issued guidance to pilots and aircraft operators to take note of a series of airspace restrictions that will be put in place over certain areas of the UK to ensure its safe journey.

The Royal Air Force is due to bring into service the UK variant of MQ-9B SkyGuardian, known as Protector RG Mk1 which will increase its long-range surveillance and precision strike capabilities. It will feature in the static park as part of the Air Tattoo's international celebration of the Royal Air Force's Centenary.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: "The CAA supports the safe development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft in the UK as they can bring many benefits. We have worked closely with General Atomics, NATS and the armed forces to safely accommodate the SkyGuardian into UK airspace."

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said the airshow has a proud history of featuring aviation 'firsts' and he was pleased that this would continue in 2018.

He said: "Remotely piloted aircraft, for both civilian and military use, are clearly an important part of aviation's future landscape. We are already seeing a rapid growth in smaller airframes being used recreationally, for aerial photography and they have been used effectively in local search and rescue operations. We watch with great interest as further commercial applications are explored.

"It's appropriate that on an occasion when we are celebrating the RAF's centenary that we should present to the public not only aircraft from the RAF's illustrious past and present but also offer a rare glimpse of its future.

"Whilst this particular airframe is being flown to very stringent aviation guidelines, I wish to remind everyone that strict rules and regulations exist regarding the use of smaller remotely piloted airframes, commonly known as drones. In the case of the Air Tattoo none are permitted to be airborne at or around the airshow and to do so would constitute a criminal act."

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