£195m contract signed for 13 additional RAF Protectors
A £195m contract for a further 13 cutting-edge Protector aircraft has been signed. Defence Minister Jeremy Quin announced the new contract during a visit to GKN Aerospace (GKNA), who are manufacturing key parts of aircraft on the Isle of Wight.
Protector is a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) that will provide critical surveillance capability for the RAF and will be equipped with a suite of surveillance equipment and precision strike weapons to deploy against potential adversaries around the globe, all while being operated from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
16 aircraft have now been ordered from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) and are expected to enter service with the RAF by mid-2024, doubling the capability currently provided by Reaper. The investment also includes four additional ground control stations and associated support equipment.
At GKNA’s Cowes site, Minister Quin saw first-hand how the programme benefits UK industry as they manufacture the V-tails for Protector and other SkyGuardian variants for customers across the world, including Belgium and Australia, following their partnership with GA-ASI.
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Our fleet of sixteen Protector aircraft equipped with ultra-modern technology will provide the RAF with a vast global reach allowing us to monitor and protect the battlespace for hours on end. The Protector programme involves industry across the UK with vital parts of the aircraft manufactured on the Isle of Wight, supporting highly-skilled jobs for years to come.”