This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

SkyGuardian unmanned aerial system will be taken to the United Kingdom later this year for a series of operational capability demonstrations for NATO allies. 

The UK’s Protector program is a derivative of SkyGuardian with a range of UK modifications and the Royal Air Force (RAF) is supporting this visit.

The aircraft by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA‑ASI) will be configured with maritime capability, including a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System receiver, and a High-Definition, Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. 

This will build on previous GA-ASI demonstrations showcasing the unmanned advantage, which include the transatlantic flight of SkyGuardian in 2018, maritime demonstrations in Greece in 2019 and last year’s validation flights in Japan, as reported by suasnews.com.

Later this year, the SkyGuardian MQ-9B will participate in the UK-led Joint Warrior exercise that will showcase how maritime capabilities can be integrated with other air, surface and land platforms. SkyGuardian flights will further develop the company’s Detect and Avoid capability, which will enable Protector to fly in unsegregated UK airspace. 

MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the next generation of the multi-mission Predator B fleet. The aircraft represents the next generation of UAV system having demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours, automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM-only control and the Detect and Avoid system.

The UK Ministry of Defence selected MQ-9B SkyGuardian for its Protector program, and in 2020 signed the production contract for deliveries to the Royal Air Force.