The Royal Air Force recently hosted an international conference at RAF Cranwell, centred on the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS).

This was part of the UK-led International Cooperative Programme (MICP), which was focused on enhancing collaboration on the MQ-9B platform.

The conference facilitated discussions on various critical topics, including training methodologies, provision of certification evidence, and data necessary to achieve Military Type Certification. Furthermore, the discussions explored cost-sharing strategies for capability enhancements, highlighting the cooperative spirit of the event.

Representatives from across the globe, including MICP partners and observers, participated in the event. Key defence agencies such as the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), the manufacturer of the MQ-9B, were also present.

Giovanni Alfano, Principal Officer of the NSPA Alliance Ground Surveillance and Uncrewed Aerial Systems Programme, commented on the strategic goals of the programme: “To respond to NATO and national autonomous systems requirements, the Agency aims to establish an MQ-9 International Cooperation Support Partnership that provides acquisition and sustainment services to the participating nations.”

Wing Commander Long elaborated on the significance of the expanding MICP community, which now includes ten nations with interest from several others. He said, “This community of like-minded countries will operate one of the most advanced RPAS capabilities in the world. Working together not only enhances interoperability but also maximises efficiencies across our national, alliance, and NATO capabilities to deter and defeat adversaries.”

Following the success of the RAF’s MQ-9B platform (Protector RG Mk1) and the Mojave MQ-1C trial, the UK is continuing to invest in these capabilities, with RAF Waddington set to become the home base for the RAF’s fleet of 16 Protector RG Mk1 aircraft.

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

19 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Jim
Jim (@guest_812509)
15 days ago

Kind of makes you think what we could have done if we had kept going with MANTIS, the US has been shunning MALE UAV development for a while and almost all the development of MQ9 from the aircraft avoidance capability to the radar for Sea Guardian seems to be UK based developments and now project Mohave for carrier deployment but the UK gets none of the benefits.

If this country had a half decent government we would be dangerous.

Simon
Simon (@guest_812515)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

We must learn from f35 mistakes and have our tech on board from the start. Great to have a like minded cooperate hopefully. Yes would love to see some navy drone action for navies sans Hawkeye.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_812526)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

“If this country had a half decent government we would be dangerous”.

Sums it up Jim, alas no signs of that changing with two equally bloody useless parties….

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_812528)
15 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I believe the Tory position is

“2.5% on defence when the economic conditions allow”

The Labour position is….

“When conditions allow, we will spend 2.5% on defence.”

Choices, choices…..

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_812546)
15 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

At this point it almost comes down to what’s your favourite colour, at least based upon defence commitments…

Jim
Jim (@guest_812576)
15 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

The treasury has been in charge of defence since 1914. That’s why there is no difference.

Always spend the minimum they can get away with.

Jack
Jack (@guest_814423)
10 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

What is your favourite ice-cream flavour, swede or turnip ?

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_814446)
10 days ago
Reply to  Jack

Well quite……

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_812550)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

It’s a tricky one- I think the Bayraktar TB2’s performance in Ukraine shows how vulnerable MALE UAVs can be in combat when AD is strong. I can understand why the US is looking at higher performance low-observable designs. They’re the hardest to get done, but offer the biggest step change. Things like the Boeing MQ-25 as a tanker, potential AEW and even long range missile carrier for the USN, and Ghostbat or similar as a loyal wingman for the USAF. That said, I think for maritime ops there’s a lot more scope for use of the “traditional” MALE UAVs- both… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_812581)
15 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yes I was thinking much the same, for roles like Maratime patrol and AEW MALE drones are ideal. As for US I think the defence contractors took one look at Drones and decided there was not enough in it for them. Had to go stealthy/ survivable/ optionally maned to get the mark up they like. Boeing is now charging $136 million for each MQ25 while Australia paying $250 million for three more MQ28. Talk of having the B21 as optimally manned for missions that are deemed too dangerous for a human’s yet no one has come up with a mission… Read more »

Netking
Netking (@guest_812599)
14 days ago
Reply to  Jim

“no one has come up with a mission profile that’s too dangerous for humans where it’s ok to risk a $700 million aircraft.”

RQ180 operating over Yulin submarine base for several years disagrees.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_812768)
14 days ago
Reply to  Netking

Where did you read of that? I follow the black world so fascinated by that comment.

Netking
Netking (@guest_813012)
14 days ago

Hi DM, Total speculation on my part. As I’m sure you’re aware, an aircraft believed to be the rq-180 was spotted over the Philippines a few years ago and it is believed it was returning from a mission over the SCS. Now there are a lot of possible surveillance targets in that area but most of these could possibly be observed by satellites and other more conventional aircraft. When you think about the acknowledged requirements of the B-21 and other cutting edge US istar aircraft, (the ability to penetrate and persist inside an adversary’s AD bubble) then a few more… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_813041)
13 days ago
Reply to  Netking

Thanks. Yes i’ve seen that photo. And those taken over Kansas, which were not a B2 despite what the USAF suggested.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_813042)
13 days ago

And to add, there is no smoke without fire. It was going somewhere. Staging out of DG too I wonder?

Netking
Netking (@guest_813066)
13 days ago

Staging out of DG too I wonder?”

Does make you wonder. I think with the coming pacific tilt, DG will become an absolutely critical asset over the coming decades.

Ian
Ian (@guest_812521)
15 days ago

I knew the MQ-9 was bigger than say, Watchkeeper, but I didn’t appreciate quite how much bigger until now.

Cymbeline
Cymbeline (@guest_812527)
15 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Yes, quite surprised myself. It’s bloody huge.

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_812545)
15 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Was going to comment on the same thing! That wingspan is what gives you 40 hours flight time, I suppose.