The idea to use a Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) for Force Protection (FP) originated from a homegrown idea in the RAF Force Protection Centre, RAF Honington in 2017.

According to the Royal Air Force, the idea was initially supported by the Rapid Capability Office who provided funding to trial three different commercial off-the-shelf types of RPAS.

“Known as AMYNTAS, initial Testing and Evaluation of the different RPAS, including extensive experiments conducted with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, found the Aeryon SkyRanger to be the most suitable platform. Since 2019, the FP RPAS has been located at four UK Main Operating Bases and flown by RAF FP personnel.”

Image Crown Copyright 2020.

Capable of operating in adverse weather conditions, both day and night, it is understood that the RPAS can switch between High Definition 30x Zoom, Electro Optical and InfraRed cameras in order to locate intruders. Unique in Defence, the FP RPAS has been fully integrated into segregated airspace and operates alongside well-known RAF platforms such as the F-35, Typhoon and A400M. 

FP Force Senior Operator Flight Lieutenant Rob Clarke said:

“The FP Force remains innovative in all it does; by embracing technology today we are engaged in ASTRA, the campaign to build a Next Generation Air Force for 2035. World-leaders in Air FP development, the RAF FP Centre continues to advance the use of RPAS alongside commercial and technical improvements.”

The Royal Air Force also advise that as part of the ongoing development, the FP RPAS has provided direct support to the UK’s COVID 19 response, assisted with structural inspections and supported the recovery of an Army Air Corps Helicopter following a forced landing. The Military Aviation Authority have also approved trials of extended visual line of sight flying, which will increase the operational reach of the RPAS.

Image Crown Copyright 2020.

“Senior Operators and Remote Pilots undergo an initial one-week Civil Aviation Authority approved course, which awards a National Qualified Entity Certificate. These individuals are then required to complete a conversion to type course held at the RAF FPC. Due to the unique nature of operating in the Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE), the RAF FPC is currently designing an RPAS operators’ course, which will address the specific needs of FP operations. Extremely capable, the FP RPAS greatly enhances the ability of the FP Force to protect the RAF’s people and assets, both at home and overseas.”

FP Centre WO/FP RPAS Chief Instructor – WO Ian Galloway said: 

“In my 36 years’ service it’s rare to just find something that I know simply works; the FP RPAS is that piece of equipment. In trials we were able to find enemy intruders in a matter of seconds, thereby greatly reducing the risk to RAF personnel and its assets.”

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Interesting. I heard of this a few years back protecting a building in Cambridgeshire. Love that it has RAF roundels, and love that aircraft behind it even more!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago

Hi Daniele,

Yeh, I agree. The RAF roundels made me smile – you’d need bloody good eye to see them 🙂

On a serious note I am increasingly encouraged by the fast development initiatives from all three services, particularly around COTS UAV’s. Just wish they could do similar with major programmes. May be they’ll to some read across someday!

Cheers CR

Lusty
Lusty
3 months ago

I wonder which one sounds better?

In flight, one sounds like a horde of marauding banshees playing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with the skulls of long dead travellers. The other sounds like a rather annoying wasp.

In all seriousness, I welcome the continued investment and trials with UAV technology. Hopefully, it’ll go some way to replacing the assets which have been lost, whilst improving/augmenting our current capabilities.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

I’d take the wasp over a banshee’s keen Lusty! Lol.

I’d like to hear that description!

Lusty
Lusty
3 months ago

Hah, I too would take the Wasp, however, the Vulcan will always have a special place in my heart, there’s only a handful of aircraft which ‘beat’ it in my books.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

I presume that photo was taken at Waddington. Cannot think where else a Vulcan is on display on the station?

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago

I know we’ve grown used to regular capability holidays, but if these were originally envisaged as force protection for the RAF based nuclear deterrent……..!

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago

This is confusing, will the RAF Reg be using it for Force Protection? and if so, how the fuck will it open the main gate barrier, and how do you get a luminous vest on it! Will it also have a voice recording which plays some Bastion “combat” stories over a loud speaker while hovering above the EFI shop? 😝! Ah I will ask my son in law…….

Lusty
Lusty
3 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Paint it luminous green and tie a bit of string to the end of the barrier and attach it to the drone. FFBNW speakers and questionable combat stories.

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Lusty you are a wag!!! It’s sad that the RAF Reg also get FFBNW Infantry skills! Now you behave young man and leave those lads AND LASS alone 😇

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

When did I suddenly become a WAG? I’ve not had any encounters with a bayonet: and I’ve certainly never been threatened with one by a member of the RAF Reg. They still struggle with knives and forks, which is surprising considering the only thing they’re fitted for and with is guarding the NAAFI!!

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Harsh but fair!!!!

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Can’t resist, lol.

Of course I respect their valuable contribution. 😉

I hope all is well, Airborne.