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American MQ-9B RPA Predator drone enters into service with British Air Force

A small team of British Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel based in the United States is preparing the way for the introduction into service of the UK’s new remotely piloted air system (RPAS), the MQ-9B Protector.

American MQ 9B RPA Predator drone enters into service with British Air Force 925 001
The M-9B  Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is designed and manufactured by the American Company General Atomics (Picture source General Atomics)

The Protector Combined Test Team (CTT) comprises experienced pilots, sensor operators and engineers from the Royal Air Force, industry partners and the US Air Force who are coordinating the testing and evaluation of the Protector system, which will replace the MQ-9 Reaper in RAF service.

The UK is investing in an initial 16 Protector aircraft, manufactured by General AtomicsAeronautical Systems Inc. An important aspect of the work of the CTT will be to ensure that Protector complies with national and international airspace and safety regulations. It will be the first aircraft of its kind to be certified in this way, allowing it to operate safely and effectively in a wide variety of environments and locations, including support of humanitarian relief operations.

The MQ-9 Reaper also called Predator B is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by the American Company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).

The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the previous version of the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator. It can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine. The greater power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1.

The The MQ-9 can be armed with four laser-guided missiles, Air-to-Ground Missile-114 Hellfire. It also incorporates a laser range finder/designator, which precisely designates targets for employment of laser-guided munitions, such as the Guided Bomb Unit-12 Paveway II.



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