Protector RG Mk1

An advanced military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) tailored for sophisticated reconnaissance and surveillance tasks, the Protector RG Mk1 boasts the capability to operate via SATCOM for up to 40 hours in diverse weather conditions. This cutting-edge UAV was developed by General Atomics exclusively for use by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

It represents just one of numerous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) earmarked for acquisition by the United Kingdom.

The Protector RG Mk1 is a cutting-edge Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) that comes from the same family of innovative MQ-9B SkyGuardian. The SkyGuardian served as the foundation for the next generation of RPAS, offering constant Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities worldwide.

Photo Credit: General Atomics / Protector RG Mk1 armed with 12 Brimstone missile and two paveway LGBs.
Photo Credit: General Atomics / Protector RG Mk1 is armed with 12 Brimstone missiles and two Paveway LGBs

Protector is made to safely integrate into civil airspace and fly for up to 40 hours via SATCOM in any weather, allowing joint military and civil authorities to give real-time situational awareness anywhere in the world—day or night.

The Protector RG Mk1 aircraft boasts an array of impressive features, including an innovative Lynx Multi-mode Radar, an advanced electro-optical/infrared sensor, the capability for autonomous takeoff and landing, and a remarkable 79-foot wingspan. Notably, this wingspan is longer than that of its predecessors, contributing to its enhanced capabilities.

Protector goes above and beyond maintaining industry-leading endurance and gathering real-time intelligence, though. In extending RPAS operations in support of the armed forces and civil authorities, it integrates smoothly with user operational environments and apparatus.

Photo Credit: General Atomics
Photo Credit: General Atomics

Protector Can Be Configured for a Variety of ISTAR Operations, Including

  • Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
  • Search and Rescue
  • Law Enforcement
  • Border Enforcement
  • Defensive Counter Air
  • Airborne Early Warning
  • Electronic Warfare
  • Long-Range Strategic ISTAR
  • Anti-Surface Warfare (Maritime Role-Fit)
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare (Maritime Role-Fit)
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In addition to meeting NATO and UK standards, Protector is built from the ground up to abide by international and domestic civil aviation regulations. When equipped with GA-pioneering ASI’s Detect and Avoid Technology, Protector will easily blend in with regular air traffic like other commercial aircraft.

Protector’s remote flying station provides operators with a view of air traffic that is comparable to, if not superior to, that seen from a human-manned aircraft’s cockpit. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been collaborating closely with GA-ASI and the UK industry for several years to approve Protector for flight in civil airspace.

Photo Credit: General Atomics

Protector RG Mk1 Technical Specifications

  • Crew:  2 For Ground Station Container
  • Length:  38 ft 1 in ( 11.7 m )
  • Height:  12 ft 6 in ( 3.81 m )
  • Wingspan:  79 ft ( 24 m)
  • Empty Weight:  2,223 kg  ( 4,901 lb )
  • Max takeoff weight:  5,670 kg ( 12,500 lb )
  • Powerplant: 1 × Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine
  • Fuel capacity:  2,721 kg ( 6,000 lb )
  • Maximum Speed:  482 km/h  ( 300 mph )
  • Mission Radius: 1,900 km ( 1,200 mi )
  • Endurance: 43 hours  ( 14 hours fully loaded with arms )
  • Service ceiling:  43,000 ft
  • Payload:  2,155 kg ( 4,750 lb )
  • Hardpoints: A total of nine hardpoints are available (eight wings and one centerline) with provisions for carrying combinations of air-to-surface missiles (such as Hellfire and Brimstone) and bombs (such as Paveway and JDAM). Additionally, testing is currently underway to enable the operation of the Air-to-Air Stinger missile, prompted by the incident of a Reaper being intercepted in the Black Sea by a Russian SU-27 on March 14, 2023.
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In summary, the Protector RG Mk1 is in perfect alignment with the evolving requirements of the Royal Air Force (RAF) for a modern and adaptable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Its advanced capabilities, such as autonomous flight, extended endurance, and state-of-the-art sensor technology, directly address the RAF’s need for improved surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence-gathering capabilities.
Its robust design and outstanding performance not only meet but also surpass the demands of a rapidly changing operational landscape. As the RAF continues to protect national interests and maintain air superiority, this drone serves as a symbol of innovation and adaptability, ensuring that the RAF remains a formidable force in safeguarding the United Kingdom and its allies.

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