DSEI 2021 – The second RAF Squadron to operate the new Protector RG Mk1 aircraft has been revealed as 13 Squadron.

The Squadron is currently based at RAF Waddington from where personnel operate the Reaper remotely piloted aircraft system on operations overseas.

The announcement was made by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston today, who was speaking at DSEI 2021.

“Protector will enter RAF service in 2023 and be declared operational in 2024 as the successor to Reaper. We will have two squadrons, and we have already declared the first squadron will be 31 Squadron. I am delighted to announce that the second Protector squadron will indeed be 13 Squadron, a fitting allocation for a historic squadron, long associated with the RPAS role.

Protector represents a giant leap forward in technology and aircraft performance over its predecessor Reaper. Equipped with cutting-edge sensors, automatic take-off, landing and flight modes, and UK weapons, Protector can fly further for longer, from many more places around the world, with a much wider range of potential missions from flood monitoring, to maritime patrol, to strikes on violent extremists who would do us harm. This aircraft will enable our Government to act on a world stage within hours, at range, and precisely.

Just as with Atlas, if we treat Protector merely as an upgrade to Reaper and simply read across tactics and procedures, we will have failed to capitaliSe on what this remarkable platform offers. The technology alone is not enough remember, it’s what you do with it that matters.”

The full speech is available here.

A total of 16 Protectors are on order for the RAF.

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Challenger
Challenger
25 days ago

As one of the current Reaper squadrons this wasn’t a massive surprise. With 16 Protectors I imagine we’ll see 13 & 31 as the frontline squadrons with 39 possibly being the OCU/OEU for the fleet.

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
25 days ago

The good thing about UAVs is that the excellent ground crew/techies don’t have to deal quite so much with arrogant/stroppy aircrew. Gets my vote, from experience.

Reaper
Reaper
25 days ago

Has any Reaper drones had mechanical failure whilst on mission and had to emergency land way behind enemy lines?, also do they have self destruct options just incase?

I’m guessing they went for a simple engine anyways so they must be reliable, but everything breaks down sometimes. I would like to know their contingency plan if they have one?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
24 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

One of the original RAF Predators. Crashed in Afghanistan and I believe it was despatched by SF.

Reaper
Reaper
24 days ago

Ah right cheers Daniele

David Steeper
David Steeper
24 days ago

So 16 divide into 2 Operational Sqds. That means what 4-6 max per Sqd ? 9 Poseidons into 2 Sqds as well. All commanded by Wing Commanders. Keep an eye on the Typhoon Sqds they’re the only ones left with 12 per Sqd. And the same is happening in the Army too. Our forces are looking more and more like Germany’s circa 1945.

Reaper
Reaper
24 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I thought typhoons Sqds went down to 10.

David Steeper
David Steeper
24 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Haven’t seen any announcement of that where did you see that ?

Reaper
Reaper
24 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I’ll try find it for you👍

David Steeper
David Steeper
24 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Look forward to it.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
24 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Typhoon sqn’s operate as a pool of aircraft. Aircraft are moved around sqns depending on the tasking. The RAF has used this operate model for years now.

Python15
Python15
19 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Absolutely correct Robert!

Klonkie
Klonkie
24 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I agree David, the numbers seem light. Maybe an indicator that more will be ordered?

David Steeper
David Steeper
24 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Or if more are ordered the RAF will form more sqds = More Wing Commanders.

Last edited 24 days ago by David Steeper
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
24 days ago

“The United Kingdom, for the first time, approved a point-to-point flight of an unmanned aircraft in national airspace, enabling a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian to fly from Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington in England to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/mq-9b-makes-first-point-to-point-flight-for-an-unmanned-aircraft-in-uk-airspace

Tommo
Tommo
23 days ago

How,about a couple of these at MPA

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
23 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

I don’t see the need. Our Atlas carries out MPA duties there, and there’s no argie SF coming ashore that an eye in the sky or a LGB are required for.

Our Reapers generally also have a SIGINT mission ( Airhandler) and FMV ground surv role ( crossbow) while hovering over rag heads in the Middle East, We have that covered in the S Atlantic with other assets.

I’d keep the fleet together and use in the M East or over the hone waters augmenting the P8s. Much more pressing.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
23 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

I don’t see the need. Our Atlas carries out MPA duties there, and there’s no argie SF coming ashore that an eye in the sky or a LGB are required for.

Our Reapers generally also have a SIGINT mission ( Airhandler) and FMV ground surv role ( Crossbow) while hovering over rag heads in the Middle East, We have that covered in the S Atlantic with other assets.

I’d keep the fleet together and use in the M East or over the home waters augmenting the P8s. Much more pressing.

Tommo
Tommo
23 days ago

I was just throwing the idea,in the ring incase anyone one in the know was reading ,quite a few on this thread have been going on ,about China’s every increasing Mega factory fishing fleets .Reapers are almost silent and at their altitude hard too spot , great asset for survalence as the Chinese have been doing the two,step trawl one trawler in view not trawling the other on the blind side trawling .So fishery protection are at a disadvantage but with Reaper There’d get their hands caught in the Cookie jar