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Royal Air Force stands up second Protector RPAS squadron

RAF Protector RPAS
Photo: Royal Air Force

The second Royal Air Force squadron to operate the new Protector RG Mk1 aircraft has been revealed as XIII 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 the Defence & Security Equipment International event on September 15.

A total of 16 Protectors are on order for the RAF. A representative example of the UK’s new Protector, known as SkyGuardian, is presently in the UK as part of preparations for the arrival of the new aircraft at RAF Waddington in 2023.

It was announced last week that the Lincolnshire station is set to benefit from £94 million of investment to modernize and improve its infrastructure for Protector operations, including a new International Protector Training Facility.

“The arrival of Protector at RAF Waddington will mark a real stepped change in our RPAS capability and ability to support a multitude of operations from both home and abroad. I have every confidence in XIII Squadron’s ability to get the very best out of this new and exciting capability. Never has their Squadron motto, ‘we assist by watching’ seemed more appropriate to their future task in hand,” Air Commodore Hay, ISTAR Force Commander, commented.

Protector is an advanced, medium altitude long endurance (MALE) remotely piloted aircraft system procured to replace the RAF’s Reaper. It brings enhanced armed surveillance capabilities, including extended range, increased payload and planned integration of UK weapons. It will be able to conduct armed intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition (ISTAR) at long range and for long periods.