The United Kingdom has announced that it intends to place an order for the Certifiable Predator B as part of its Protector MALE UAV programme.
General Atomics modified the Reaper platform into the certifiable Predator B in order to make it compliant with European flight regulations to get more sales by European countries. In order to fly over national airspace, the aircraft meets airworthiness requirements with lightning protection, different composite materials, and sense and avoid technology.
According to the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Royal Air Force will operate at least 20 Protector systems by 2025, replacing all of its current 10 MQ-9 Reapers.
According to a justification for a ‘sole-source award notification’ published on the 24th of April, the MoD has given General Atomics a GBP415 million (USD605 million) contract for the UAV. While the award did not disclose numbers, the UK government has previously said 20 will be procured.
According to the MoD:
“The Unmanned Air Systems Team of the UK Ministry of Defence intends to acquire the Protector unmanned aerial system through a government-government Foreign Military Sales contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD). The MoD has conducted a thorough Assessment Phase that has concluded that the CPB is the only system capable of achieving UK Military Type Certification and delivering the Protector requirement within the required timescales. The only means of acquiring the CPB is through a contract with the US DoD”
In February, General Atomics announced that the long-endurance Predator B, which will eventually increase the flight time of the Reaper from 27h to 40h, had carried out its first flight. The aircraft is also expected to have a much greater payload than Reaper.
According to company literature, the platform has the following features/benefits:
- Compliant with NATO flight certification and other standards
- STANAG 4671/UK DEFSTAN 00-970
- DO-254A, DO-160B, DO-178C
- Remotely piloted or automatic
- Automatic takeoff and landing capability
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
- Triple-redundant avionics/dual redundant flight controls
- De-ice, lightning protection, fire detection systems
- MIL-STD-1760 Stores Management System
- 9 external stores stations
- C-Band line-of-sight data link
- Ku-Band SATCOM data link
- Provisions for DRR retrofit kit
- Certifiable GCS
- DO-254 compliant multi-core computer
- DO-178 flight control software
- Certified displays and full payload separation