LONDON – 24 January 2019 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), the leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, electro-optic and related mission systems, hosted an Industry Showcase today to recognize UK companies that are contributing to operational systems such as MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and the new MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA program. The Royal Air Force (RAF) MQ-9B variant is called Protector RG.

The showcase featured contract signings with MBDA and Raytheon UK to integrate UK weapons onto the Protector RG Mk1, and a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with BAE Systems to collaborate on integration of RPA into UK national airspace.

The following UK partners attended the showcase:

  • Abaco Systems – Provides a DO-178 and DO-254 compliant computer that processes flight critical functions for the MQ-9B Ground Control Station (GCS)
  • BAE Systems – Will support development of Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) for Protector operations in UK national airspace
  • CAE – Will develop a comprehensive synthetic training system for Protector RG Mk1 flight crews
  • Cobham Aviation Services, UK – Provides ongoing logistics and maintenance services for the RAF Reaper fleet
  • Cosworth – Provides engine development and manufacturing services for GA-ASI’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System, operated by the US Army
  • Daco Hand Controllers – Supplies pilot Stick and Throttle hand-controllers for the GCS, as well as a specially designed hand controller that aids in target tracking
  • Defence Electronics & Component Agency (DECA) – This UK MOD Agency provides MRO, upgrade and managed services in support of Defence
  • GKN Aerospace – Supplies MQ-9 landing gear and fuel bladders, and is an approved supplier of carbon-composite tail structures
  • Leonardo – Supports integration of its Seaspray maritime, surface-search radar and SAGE electronic support measures (ESM) sensor on MQ-9B
  • MBDA – Supplies Brimstone missile for Protector
  • Raytheon UK – Supplies Paveway IV precision-guided munition for Protector
  • Ultra Electronics Command & Sonar Systems – Provides miniaturized sonobuoys suitable for MQ-9B

“We have been working with our UK teammates, in some cases for many years already, to make the RAF’s procurement of Protector a significant success,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “Protector will be an example for other allied nations to follow, thereby creating more opportunities for UK aerospace industry.”

MQ-9B is the result of a five-year, GA-ASI-funded effort to deliver an unmanned aircraft that is safe to fly in non-segregated airspace, due to its compliance with the stringent airworthiness requirements of NATO STANAG 4671. The RPA features endurance of more than 40 hours, rapid integration of new payloads, nine wing hardpoints, all-weather capability with lightning protection and de-ice systems, “self-deployment” using SATCOM-commanded Automatic Takeoff and Landing, Lynx® Multi-mode Radar, large-aperture EO/IR HD-video sensor, and a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system for collision-avoidance. GA-ASI designed MQ-9B as the next generation of its multi-mission Predator® B fleet and named its baseline MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian, and the maritime surveillance variant SeaGuardian.

In July 2018, SkyGuardian became the first Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) RPA to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.