General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
Caribbean
Senior Member
Posts: 2323
Joined: 09 Jan 2016, 19:08
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Caribbean »

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/trans-a ... -aircraft/
A new Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) ordered for the Royal Air Force will fly non-stop from the United States to RAF Fairford in the UK on the 11th of July, say the MoD.

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 MoD say that 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 pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Caribbean wrote: 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.
- I must have misunderstood why the Watchkeepers have been flying in Wales (when not around the Ascension Island). Somehow I thought a segregated airspace had been created for the purpose? Small enough for line-of-sight to apply??
- or, does Watchkeeper not count as a Medium Altitude RPAS
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

User avatar
Gabriele
Senior Member
Posts: 1998
Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:53
Contact:
Italy

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Gabriele »

I must have misunderstood why the Watchkeepers have been flying in Wales (when not around the Ascension Island). Somehow I thought a segregated airspace had been created for the purpose?
Watchkeeper does fly from Wales and has flown from and over Salisbury Plain. But the "beyond line-of-sight" bit might be key there. Watchkeeper flies within radio line of sight. Beyond 150 km it needs another Watchkeeper to act as relay of the signal, as it is not, to this day, fitted with satellite link, unlike of course Reaper / Protector.
You might also know me as Liger30, from that great forum than MP.net was.

Arma Pacis Fulcra.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Gabriele wrote:Watchkeeper flies within radio line of sight
Thanks, more like it!
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

dmereifield
Senior Member
Posts: 2544
Joined: 03 Aug 2016, 20:29
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by dmereifield »

Are there any updates on when the Protector will achieve IOC and FOC with the RAF? I've read differing reports suggesting something in the region of 2021-2024.

In addition, does anybody know what will happen to the 10 Reapers - presumably they are due to be withdrawn, but will they be in such a poor material state as to not be worthy of utilisation in addition to the Protector's or for resale?

User avatar
hovematlot
Member
Posts: 253
Joined: 27 May 2015, 17:46
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by hovematlot »

1st RAF Protector on its way across the Atlantic to Fairford. Can be tracked online call sign N190TC, just passing Lake Superior at the mo... Pretty cool RPAS flying from North Dakota to Gloucestershire.

Dahedd
Member
Posts: 598
Joined: 06 May 2015, 11:18

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Dahedd »

Did it make it ?

Caribbean
Senior Member
Posts: 2323
Joined: 09 Jan 2016, 19:08
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Caribbean »

As at 18:10 - it looks to be circling just to the west of Fairford
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

User avatar
hovematlot
Member
Posts: 253
Joined: 27 May 2015, 17:46
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by hovematlot »

The first Royal Air Force Protector RPAS has auto landed at RAF Fairford after a 24.1 hour flight from North Dakota. Could have carried on for another 15 hours.... :D

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

hovematlot wrote:Could have carried on for another 15 hours.... :D
I like that one... out of duty, or to cope with adverse weather
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

RetroSicotte
Retired Site Admin
Posts: 2657
Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:10
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

Not been able to keep track on this program so much. Is this just a visit for the show, or a delivery for starting training/integration?

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Syria has shown some of the limits of our dear purchase, not even in service yet (in a similar way that Spain served as a test lab for weapons "headed for" WW2 - quite a few flopped, and newer models were allocated their production slots)
https://thedefensepost.com/2018/05/01/r ... c-warfare/
The above is mainly drawn from an assessment given in a speech at the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s 2018 GEOINT Symposium, by General Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

RetroSicotte
Retired Site Admin
Posts: 2657
Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:10
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Syria has shown some of the limits of our dear purchase, not even in service yet (in a similar way that Spain served as a test lab for weapons "headed for" WW2 - quite a few flopped, and newer models were allocated their production slots)
https://thedefensepost.com/2018/05/01/r ... c-warfare/
The above is mainly drawn from an assessment given in a speech at the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s 2018 GEOINT Symposium, by General Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
I'd say it's a fair inaccurate comparison for the Protector. UCAVs of this type never really were aimed at conventional peer warfare anyway. They're just the ultimate COIN tool more than anything really.

Not that I'm discounting the importance of realising potential threats and limitations, but I wouldn't be too down on their presence.

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

RetroSicotte wrote:Protector: [.] UCAVs of this type never really were aimed at conventional peer warfare anyway. They're just the ultimate COIN tool more than anything really.
100% agreed. And I have been consistently saying that the budget allocation would seem to be out of proportion as it is an optional extra and some key capabilities are being run "on a shoe string"... or have taken a "holiday" altogether
- now, let's not get started on Watchkeeper (which is a different type of UAV; but the same problem with it, regardless)
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

Lord Jim
Senior Member
Posts: 6196
Joined: 10 Dec 2015, 02:15
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Reaper and Protector will give the RAF invaluable experience though in operating UCAVs in an offensive role, and should help define what the RAF want from any future UCAV aimed at top tier warfare.

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Lord Jim wrote:Reaper and Protector will give the RAF invaluable experience though in operating UCAVs in an offensive role
If we take a parallel from land warfare, is sending out a patrol an offensive operation? The RAF is talking about ISR (the 6 weapon hard points come in handy "for targets of opportunity").

The latest after the transfer flight, Shephard of yesterday:
"The flight covered 3,760nm in over 24 hours.

The RAF has also been unable to reveal the base that will support Protector when it enters service. However, it has been disclosed that 31 Squadron will take responsibility of the aircraft.

Of note, a recent report by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority has indicated that the successful delivery of Protector on time and under budget is ‘unachievable’.

Previously, a GA-ASI spokesperson told Shephard: ‘MQ-9B development and timetable is tied to its launch customer, the Royal Air Force. We continue to work in partnership with RAF to deliver a unique set of capabilities, including certifiability.’

The Protector will replace the 10 MQ-9 Reapers currently in service with the RAF, based at RAF Waddington.

Speaking to reporters during an event at RAF Fairford, Air Mshl Julian Young, Chief of Materiel (Air), said that the service will be able to manage the replacement of the aircraft so it is ‘pretty seamless’."

I have not come across the Projects Authority report (as to what is the road block, to be overcome in order to keep to time and money allocations). The article mentions later about sense & avoid technology (married to certification pretty seamlessly), but any delay does not mean that the Protectors could not take over from Reapers.

Of note is what is pushing the price up:

"Along with the replacement of the aircraft, new ground control stations (GCS) will also be procured as the current GCS for the Reaper will not be compatible with the Protector. "
- hopefully hardened links, as per "lessons learnt" from Syria (and the Iranian hijack of the US drone, instructing it to land)
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

cky7
Member
Posts: 173
Joined: 13 Dec 2015, 20:19

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by cky7 »

ACC,

could a fits all with as few changes as possibles GCS be a worthwhile project for the U.K. to look at I wonder? I guess it would have to be very secure from the risk of hacking/interference but surely having a single GCS that requires fairly minimal changes to operate all unmanned would be skmethjng sensible for everyone? Perhaps maximum commonality is a better description but with unmanned onky likely to grow across all domains being able to make half hardware substantially cheaper to buy and tk some extent maintain and operate is something someone ought to be working on?

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

cky7 wrote:a fits all with as few changes as possibles GCS be a worthwhile project for the U.K. to look at
There was ITAR clearance given in July 2011 for sharing with the UK and the French, to achieve that goal. Where it is at now, I don't know. The success of Reaper in A-stan (it was only armed when that conflict made it necessary) led to all participants saying "I want one, too. No, a dozen!" so the urgency probably left commonality in a ditch... for a while:

"Raytheon's common systems share or reuse software or hardware components, using open, modular and separable architectures and interfaces that give the user control over the level of commonality required. The CGCS architecture provides the flexibility to scale the ground station from headquarters cockpit workstations all the way down to handheld phone-size controllers, depending on the application. The CGCS architecture also allows UAS management functions to be distributed across the total enterprise, which has the potential of significantly reducing the manpower footprint. "
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

User avatar
SKB
Senior Member
Posts: 7177
Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:35
England

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by SKB »



cky7
Member
Posts: 173
Joined: 13 Dec 2015, 20:19

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by cky7 »

ArmChairCivvy wrote: so the urgency probably left commonality in a ditch
Unfortunately Ive thought for a while that one of our big problems is that MOD 'just enough, just in time?UOR' policy flies completely in the face of trying to achieve savings through maximised commonality :( The two are just never gonna be happy bedfellows.

User avatar
SKB
Senior Member
Posts: 7177
Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:35
England

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by SKB »


Jdam
Member
Posts: 480
Joined: 09 May 2015, 22:26
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Jdam »

Finally :D

I believe that Paveway IV is also making it onto Protector RG Mk1 as well.

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Jdam wrote:I believe that Paveway IV is also making it onto Protector RG Mk1 as well.
Yes, ainonline gave the overview half a year ago (is the timing still as stated?);
"The RAF expects to receive the first of 16 Protector aircraft and eight advanced ground stations in 2021, for service with No. 31 Sguadron. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed an FMS contract worth £415 million (US$550 million) in November 2016, and later signed another contract for some UK-specific requirements. These include carriage of MBDA Brimstone 2 air-surface missiles and Raytheon UK Paveway IV 500-pound dual-mode guided bombs, plus addition of X-band satcom so that the UK Skynet satellites can be used. (The RAF’s existing Reapers are equipped with the same weapons and communications as the USAF's)."

Protector seems to have become SkyGuardian since.
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

User avatar
Gabriele
Senior Member
Posts: 1998
Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:53
Contact:
Italy

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by Gabriele »

PROTECTOR is the RAF name. SkyGuardian is GA-ASI name.
You might also know me as Liger30, from that great forum than MP.net was.

Arma Pacis Fulcra.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

User avatar
ArmChairCivvy
Senior Member
Posts: 15912
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:34
United Kingdom

Re: General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Protector (UCAV) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Thanks. Had to go and check the changed ISD myself...

Flightglobal (8/11/18) picked this up from a NAO report on in-year savings
"General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in July conducted a first transatlantic flight with the MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted air system. This is on order as a future successor to the Royal Air Force's Reaper fleet, and will be called Protector RG1 in UK service. While the original programme plans had called for deliveries to commence this year, the current schedule is for the medium-altitude, long-endurance type to achieve initial operational capability with 31 Sqn during 2023."

A two-year delay actually increases project cost by £160 mln. In my post above there is the initial contract cost but the Brit-specific modifications (second contract) cost was not mentioned by the source (or whether it has been disclosed at all).
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

Post Reply