The Royal Air Force has announced the graduation of the first personnel trained to operate the Protector RG Mk1, marking a significant step in its Advanced Air Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities.

The inaugural Basic Phase Course was completed by members of 54 Squadron, the ISTAR Academy, and 56 Squadron at the General Atomics – Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) Flight Test & Training Centre in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Air Commodore Nick Paton, the RAF’s ISTAR Force Commander, visited the training centre, where he met with both GA and RAF personnel. The training included extensive ground school, evaluations in mission simulators, and live flying of the Protector via satellite link from California, under the guidance of GA-ASI instructors.

The course aims to qualify future instructors and test personnel on the Air System, developing training materials and mission scenarios for RAF-delivered training to all Protector crews.

It focuses on the skills required to operate the Protector and its equipment effectively, enabling real-time exploitation of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) to track targets on the ground.

The Protector is equipped with advanced surveillance capabilities and precision strike weapons, and it features ‘detect and avoid’ technology that allows it to operate in busy, unsegregated airspace with an endurance of over 30 hours.

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Lisa has a degree in Media & Communication from Glasgow Caledonian University and works with industry news, sifting through press releases in addition to moderating website comments.
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Joe16 (@guest_817036)
2 days ago

Great, when do they start working operationally?!

Cripes (@guest_817189)
1 day ago
Reply to  Joe16

I gather that Protector unis are entering service this year and both squadrons will be fully equipped by 2026. We have only ordered 14, (16?), so afford the full buy over 3 years.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_817436)
21 hours ago
Reply to  Cripes

I thought 16.

Cripes (@guest_817706)
4 minutes ago

Yes, you’re quite right, it’s 16. Doesn’t quite make up for the 18 Sentinels, Defenders and Islanders already gone and the 10 Reapers to go, but it’s a start and looks to be a very effective system.