MBDA has received a contract for the integration of its Brimstone missile onto the RAF’s new Protector RG Mk1 remotely piloted aircraft.

The firm say that Brimstone and Protector RG Mk1 will provide key new capabilities to the Royal Air Force’s ISTAR force, ‘enabling them to engage high-speed moving and manoeuvring targets (including maritime fast attack craft for the first time)’.

The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a greater load than the Reaper platform it will replace.

Integration of Brimstone onto Protector RG Mk1 (which is the weaponised version of MQ-9B SkyGuardian) follows a series of firing trials of Brimstone from the Reaper/Predator B aircraft in the United States.

James Allibone, MBDA’s UK Sales Director, said:

Protector RG Mk1 is the third UK air platform to benefit from the unmatched capabilities of the Brimstone missile, providing UK Armed Forces with vital operational advantages and sovereign defence capabilities.

Brimstone is unique in its ability to be carried by platforms in all domains, land, sea and air, providing a common weapon that delivers both operational and cost benefits. Commonality is a key part of all MBDA’s latest systems, and is a major contributor to the £1.7 billion in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MoD and MBDA has generated.”

Earlier in 2018, the UK MoD announced a £400 million contract with MBDA for the capability sustainment programme of Brimstone missile, to build new missiles and extend this missile’s service life beyond 2030.

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captain P Wash.

Is there a Chart that shows the ” £1.7 Billion Savings ” ? and where these Savings are now ?


In the black hole. Meaning the equipment budget isn’t quite as in the shit as it would be otherwise.

Daniele Mandelli

Still a positive though.

Peter Crisp

Could these be controlled by Typhoons or F35 to launch meteor missiles to give them extra punch?
Even if all they did was send targeting data to whoever is flying the drone it could help the F35 from a carrier with limited weight for weapons.


Don’t see how that would be of use they fly at a snail’s pace relative to fast jets.


Would love to see Brimstone added to all RN surface ships to protect against fast boat swarm attacks. It’s never going to happen but as it stands, our surface ships are woefully inadequate for such a scenario.

Nick Bowman

I think Protector with Spear 3 could be an effective anti-ship system. Speed would not be crucial. The UAV would be difficult to track 100km from a hostile warship and could loiter for a very long time while tracking the ship.


Also MBDA have shown concept renders and physical mockups (models) of a VL Spear 3 (Spear 3 + booster strapped to the end) to be fired, I believe, from a soft-launch Sea Ceptor silo. If that ever happened it also gives an additional capability to any vessels equipped with soft-launch-only, both for the anti-ship you mention and potentially also for precision ground strikes on targets of opportunity. One key word is precision though because Spear 3 doesn’t have a big warhead. From what I’ve read it has target models whereby it can do things like target the turret ring of… Read more »

Bloke down the pub

From this piece in Flight, they look to be developing the capability to deploy sonar buoys from the Protector, for a proposed Royal Navy version. Maybe this would help fill part of the gap caused by insufficient numbers of P-8s. https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/general-atomics-signs-up-uk-suppliers-for-raf-protec-455293/


I assume the RG designation is showing primary function Recon and secondary Ground strike?


Peter wrote:
Could these be controlled by Typhoons or F35 to launch meteor missiles to give them extra punch?

The AH64E is designed to do that


These are becoming serious bomb trucks.

What we need to compliment these is a smaller version that is capable of being launched for a carrier. Would enable the carriers to be far more effective, considering the apparent low numbers of f35b that we plan to use on them under normal scenarios.


Carriers are more about image than actual capability. A US carrier group always looks powerful, due to the sheer number of jets lining the decks and number of escorts involved. In a war situation, most of the time land based bases are going to be available and preferred, but for optics and show of strength nothing beats a packed carrier. The issue is a QE with a couple of escorts and 12-24 jets abroad doesn’t give the same image of raw power, espeically now that so many countries are going down the carrier route. Adding a load of UAVs could… Read more »


Building on the idea and the idea of using the aid budget for ships. Drone carrier capability could be developed from the aid budget. Think about it, delivering aid by air or finding survivors in a disaster area is something drones will be used for. So instead of the military developing the capability then adapting it for disaster releif and aid delivery flip the problem, us the aid budget to develop carrier drone capabilities or even VTOL from smaller ships and then the military adapt it. By teaming up the 2 budgets in common areas we could save lives and… Read more »


Hold on a sec .. the article states:

Ultra Electronics Command & Sonar Systems has been named as supplier for sonobuoys for a potential maritime version of Protector, which is being discussed for deployment by the Royal Navy.

Poseiden are operated by RAF, so are the predator and, until now, the expected Protector, so the specific mention of ‘deployment by the Royal Navy’ means what exactly? Can they take off and land on a QE?