Tag Archives: GA-ASI

Brimstone and Protector

MBDA has received a contract for the integration of its Brimstone high-precision strike missile onto the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Protector RG Mk1 remotely piloted aircraft developed and manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI).

The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace
The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace

Brimstone and Protector RG Mk1 will provide key new capabilities to the Royal Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) force, enabling them to engage high-speed moving and manoeuvring targets (including maritime fast attack craft for the first time). The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace.

Integration of Brimstone onto Protector RG Mk1 (which is the weaponised version of MQ-9B SkyGuardian) follows a series of successful firing trials of Brimstone from the Reaper/Predator B aircraft in the United States that demonstrated the advancement in performance that Brimstone offers. Brimstone integration will be completed in time for the entry to service of the aircraft with the RAF.

James Allibone, MBDA’s UK Sales Director, said: «Protector RG Mk1 is the third UK air platform to benefit from the unmatched capabilities of the Brimstone missile, providing UK Armed Forces with vital operational advantages and sovereign defence capabilities. Brimstone is unique in its ability to be carried by platforms in all domains, land, sea and air, providing a common weapon that delivers both operational and cost benefits. Commonality is a key part of all MBDA’s latest systems, and is a major contributor to the £1.7 billion in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MoD and MBDA has generated».

Earlier in 2018, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) announced a £400 million contract with MBDA for the Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) of Brimstone missile, to build new missiles and extend this missile’s service life beyond 2030.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Weight 50 kg/110.2 lbs.
Length 1.8 m/5.9 feet
Diameter 180 mm/7 inch

 

FAA approval

On August 16th General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, through National Airspace, to its Gray Butte Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, California. The MQ-9B is a STANAG 4671 (NATO airworthiness standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems)-compliant version of the Predator B product line. The 275-mile/443-km trip lasted approximately one hour, 45 minutes and required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly through various classes of non-restricted airspace.

Flight through Multiple Classes of Non-Segregated Airspace Represents another Step towards Certification
Flight through Multiple Classes of Non-Segregated Airspace Represents another Step towards Certification

«This flight is another milestone in our progression towards delivering an RPA system that meets NATO airworthiness requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)», said Linden Blue, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), GA-ASI. «MQ-9B SkyGuardian will be the first RPA system of its kind with a design-assurance level compliant with international type-certification standards, and can therefore be integrated more easily than legacy RPAs into civil airspace operations around the world».

A weaponized variant of the system is being acquired by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) under the MQ-9B PROTECTOR program. A maritime patrol variant, SeaGuardian, is designed to support open-ocean and littoral surface surveillance. All variants are designed to fly in excess of 35 hours with airspeeds up to 210 knots/242 mph/389 km/h, and to reach altitudes of more than 40,000 feet/12,192 m.

Development of MQ-9B began in 2012 as a company-funded effort. Program highlights include first flight in November 2016 and an endurance flight in May 2017 of 48.2 hours.

Qualification testing for type-certification will continue over the next two years, with deliveries to the RAF expected to begin early next decade.