The U.K. ministry exercised a clause on its existing production contract to add to the initial three Protector remotely piloted air systems ordered in September 2020, General Atomics said Thursday.
Each MQ-9B under the Protector program features X-band satellite communications capabilities, U.K. weapon system support and various onboard sensors such as an electro-optical sensor ball and the Lynx multi-mode radar.
Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, said the drone is intended to provide the Royal Air Force with reconnaissance capability, helping ensure the security of the country and its allies.
The first Protector drone under the production contract will undergo RAF’s test and evaluation program in the U.S. before heading to its home base in 2022.
The fleet of GA-developed UAS will enter service in 2024, according to Air Cmdr. Richard Barrow, senior responsible owner for the RAF Protector Program.