A new, upgraded variant of the General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper unmanned air vehicle is to enter Royal Air Force service to replace the current Reaper fleet. More than 20 of the proposed new type, designated Protector, will replace the ten current RAF Reaper Block 1s in the 2020 timeframe.
Plans for the acquisition were announced by UK Prime Minister David Cameron on October 3. He said that Protector will carry the very latest technology and will have greater range and endurance, while it will also dramatically increase the UK’s ability to identify, track, deter and ultimately counter potential threats. The type’s exact configuration has yet to be decided. Protector is the new name now adopted for what was previously known as the Scavenger programme to acquire new armed UAVs to replace the Predator.
Cameron said provision for funding Protector is included in the upcoming 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which is expected to be unveiled in November. Alan Warnes