The SkyGuardian drone will soon be conducting trials from RAF Waddington in England and RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
RAF Waddington said in a statement:
“In the coming weeks a new shape will be seen in the skies above Lincolnshire as RAF Waddington plays host to SkyGuardian, a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) similar to the new Protector RPAS which will be based at the station from 2024.
The aircraft will take part in a number of capability demonstrations ahead of the arrival of the first of the 16 Protector RG Mk1s. Operating the aircraft from Waddington will help us plan for the arrival of Protector and its operation from the airfield, and showcase its contribution to UK jobs and prosperity which will create over 200 jobs and reinvest £400 million back into the UK economy.”
The Ministry of Defence had submitted a proposal for two ‘Temporary Danger Areas’ this summer to protect Skyguardian operations at Waddington and Lossiemouth. Details of the MoDs submission to CAA can be viewed here. Further, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has granted the request for the two temporary danger areas at both UK bases to allow the flights to take place.
SNP defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald MP has claimed that the CAA has not provided a “compelling reason why SkyGuardian can safely fly over Scottish homes yet not over Californian ones”, he was quoted as saying:
“In the face of significant pressuring being applied to the CAA to open up the skies to large drones, their first priority must always be the safety of the public and other air users.”
The CAA said it was “satisfied that it meets the safety requirements for a large remotely piloted aircraft”.
The Ministry of Defence said:
“Whilst SkyGuardian could operate in a slightly smaller volume of airspace we are aiming to emulate the Protector flight profiles in order to see if the airspace can cater for typical Protector departure and arrivals in the manner which the RAF intends to train its crews.”