European missile manufacturer MBDA has been awarded a contract to integrate its Brimstone high-precision strike missile onto the Royal Air Force’s Protector RG1 remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS). The Protector, a weaponised version of the certifiable MQ-9B SkyGuardian developed and manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, will be capable of carrying three Brimstones on each weapon station, for a theoretical maximum of 18 weapons.
According to a statement from MBDA: “Brimstone and Protector RG1 will provide key new capabilities to the Royal Air Force’s ISTAR force, enabling them to engage high-speed moving and manoeuvring targets (including maritime fast attack craft for the first time).”
Integration of the missile onto Protector follows a series of successful Brimstone firing trials from the Reaper/Predator B aircraft in the United States. The weapon is planned to be integrated in time for Protector entry-to-service with the RAF.
James Allibone, MBDA’s UK Sales Director, said: “Protector RG1 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 £1.7bn in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MOD and MBDA has generated.”
Last year, the UK MOD announced a £400m contract with MBDA for the capability sustainment programme (CSP) of the Brimstone missile, to build new missiles and extend this weapon service life beyond 2030.
Synthetic training system
In other Protector news, CAE has received a contract from General Atomics to develop a synthetic training system for the RAF’s Protector RG1.
Under the contract, CAE will design and develop a comprehensive synthetic training system that will include desktop and high-fidelity mission trainers specific to the Protector RPAS. The high-fidelity Protector mission trainers will be based on GA-ASI’s certifiable ground control station (CGCS) and will be the first simulators developed for this system. CAE will also provide brief/debrief and scenario generation stations as part of the overall synthetic training package.
“We are pleased to continue our global training partnership with GA-ASI to support the UK Protector programme,” said Gene Colabatistto, CAE’s Group President, Defence & Security. “Protector will offer a new level of capability in an unmanned air system and will require well-trained aircrews. We will leverage developments we have made over the past several years creating the highest fidelity training devices for the Predator family of remotely piloted aircraft to produce a world-class synthetic training system for the Protector programme.”
Initial deliveries of the synthetic training system will be targeted for delivery in 2020 to RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, the hub of UK ISTAR that will be the main operating base for the Protector.
“MQ-9B SkyGuardian, which Protector is based on, represents the next-generation of remotely piloted aircraft capabilities, including longer endurance and automatic take-off and landing,” said David R Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “The Protector synthetic training system will play a key role helping the Royal Air Force develop skilled aircrews and we are pleased to collaborate with CAE as our training partner on this critical programme.”