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Waddington to Operate Protector, with Best of British Air Power on Show at Air Tattoo

18 July 2018

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson marked a momentous centenary year for the RAF at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) today, as it was announced that Waddington will operate the air force’s new Protector aircraft, a new Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS).

 RIAT this year saw the arrival of the Protector from the US, paired with the announcement that RAF Waddington will be the main operating base for the aircraft, which continuing the foundations of flying Reaper, will operate this next generation, world leading aircraft.

In a historic first, the aircraft flew non-stop from North Dakota, United States to Gloucestershire in a flight that took over just over 20 hours, setting the record as the first Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) to transit across the Atlantic.

Designed to double the RAF’s Reaper capability, the Protector will provide world leading capability, able to persist for over 40 hours. The aircraft will contribute to Homeland and Defence tasks across the spectrum of operations, including but not limited to, military aid to civil authorities, and armed intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition at long range and for long periods until beyond the mid-2030’s. The aircraft will be based at RAF Waddington, with planned investment of £93 million to construct a new purpose-built hanger as well new facilities and accommodation for crews.

The Protector is designed with anti-icing and lightning protection ensuring an unmatched ability to operate in adverse weather conditions. It will be able to contribute to an array of homeland defence tasks, including search and rescue, disaster monitoring or flood prevention activities. The Protector is also the world’s first RPAS to be designed, built and certified against stringent NATO and UK safety standards.