The order is for up to twenty-six Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft, 16 on order now with options for an additional 10.

According to a submission to the United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency, notifying congress of a foreign militaryt sale:

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft, equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $1.0 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 16, 2016.

The United Kingdom (UK) requested a possible sale of up to twenty-six (26) Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (16 with option for additional 10); twelve (12) Advanced Ground Control Stations (GCSs) (8 with option for additional 4); four (4) New Launch and Recovery Element GCSs; four (4) Upgrades to existing Blk 15 Launch and Recovery Element GCSs (2 with option for additional 2); twenty-five (25) Multi-spectral Targeting Systems (12 + 2 spares, with option for additional 10 + 1 spare); twenty-five (25) AN/APY-8 Lynx IIe Block 20A Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground Moving Target Indicators (SAR/GMTI) (12+ 2 spares, with option for additional 10 + 1 spare); Eighty-six (86) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Guidance Units (EGIs) (3 per aircraft) (48 + 5 spares, with option for additional 30 + 3 spares). This sale also includes communications equipment, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment; weapons installation kits; TPE331-10YGD engines; unique and common spares package; support equipment; U.S. Air Force technical orders; country specific technical orders; Contractor Logistics Support for two (optional three) years; contractor provided aircraft components, spares, and accessories; personnel training; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated program cost is $1.0 billion.

The UK is a close ally and an important partner on critical foreign policy and defence issues. The proposed sale will enhance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the UK’s capabilities to provide national defence and contribute to NATO and coalition operations.

This sale will improve the UK’s ability to meet current and future threats by providing improved Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) coverage that enhances homeland security, promotes increased battlefield situational awareness, augments combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support. The Certifiable Predator B will also be used to support the UK’s armed forces and coalition forces engaged in current and future peacekeeping, peace-enforcing, counter-insurgent, and counterterrorism operations. The UK already operates armed remotely piloted aircraft, the MQ-9 Reaper, and will have no difficulty transitioning to the Certifiable Predator B.”

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

11 COMMENTS

    • So you approve these low effort comments but mine are repeatedly awaiting some jaded cynical moderator to approve them? This place is an echo chamber of cynicism. There is an obvious trend whereby positive royal navy news garners no real responses whereas the less than positive news will create whole threads of mostly factually incorrect whinging but yet I can’t seem to put in my 2 pence because they languish in “waiting for moderation”

      This site is a joke in regards to genuine conversation

    • I think it is clear which of the 2 options is more practically useful.

      The Drones are being used pretty constantly whilst anti-ship missiles haven’t been fired in many years.

      Better to invest in equipment that will actually be used, than ones that are unlikely to be used, when the budgets/available tech don’t allow both.

      • Hi Steve. I agree with you but only to a point. First, no other navy worth its salt would put frigates and destroyers to sea without some sort of reach beyond a gun even if the system is borderline obsolete. Effectively beyond our attack boats – of which there are precious few – the RN can’t sink an enemy ship. Even when the carriers enter service, the RAF got ride of their anti-ship missiles years ago – back to square one…

        Second is perception. In the eyes of our potential enemies we look weak and that in and of itself is very dangerous. If any one was thinking about picking a fight with the RN e.g. Iran in the Gulf, then just wait until 2018.

        Third, just because we have never used a weapon system doesn’t mean we dispose of it without a viable replacement. We have never used our nuclear deterrent but HMG is going ahead with Sucessor now in time before the Vanguard boats need replacing.

        Forth – and most importantly – HMG is endangering the lives of our servicemen and women by putting them to sea without the necessary protection should they need it, purely due to money. The missiles themselves have been paid for long ago but it is the support contract that expires in 2018. Some bean counter in the MOD/Treasury thinks it’s a great idea to not renew this and wait 10yrs for a replacement all the while risking the lives of our sailors. I for one would not appreciate being one of said sailors knowing what we know.

        This is in my mind simply unforgivable as any missile is better than no missile. We can find 11bn to throw away in foreign aid but we can’t find the measly sum to keep some sort of offensive weapon on board our ships until a suitable replacement is available???

        A totally irresponsible move by HMG!

  1. Agree David. But it is a case of prioritising.

    In an ideal world it would not happen. UAV’s are in use now, are in vogue, and will only grow in importance and capability.

    Where’s I don’t think a western navy has used a SSM in anger against another ship ever? Might be wrong on this and I do not include use of Sea Skua or air launched Exocets here as in the Falklands.

    This is positive news, an increase in capability and numbers. SDSR said 20 though so still not the 20 promised yet. I think I’m right in saying 4 UAV’s make a single system with 1 deployed? Might be wrong on this? If so that’s 4 in use at any one time and providing coverage over a wide area.

  2. p tattersall, you have heard of multi layered defence, we have very little defensive or indeed offensive capability left or do you consider pie in the sky soft power. Take a long hard look at what we have left across all services, what we are about to lose, what is proposed and what is actually realistic. Our armed forces have been overtaken, conventionally, by a good number of nations with others close; we have become an irrelevance. If you consider a few early F35B’s will some how bridge the gapping wound then all I can say is ‘When all else fails a blind ability to see facts in the face will see us through’. God Bless You.

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