Aircraft

UK And Belgium Agree To Collaborate On Protector Drones

The two nations have agreed to explore the possibility of working together on the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System.

The UK and Belgium have agreed to look at ways they can work together on the new Protector drone programme.

Both nations are acquiring the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), known in the UK as 'Protector'. 

A Bilateral Statement of Intent was signed by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, and his Belgian counterpart.

The two countries will now look at possible ways to collaborate on the aircraft, including training, maintenance, logistic support, interoperability and capability enhancement, the RAF said.

"The Royal Air Force and Belgian Air Force will explore opportunities to train, maintain and work together on this game-changing aircraft using its cutting-edge sensors and systems to protect national, NATO and European security," said Air Chief Marshal Wigston.

"The introduction of Protector MQ-9B reflects a step change in remotely piloted aircraft operations in Europe and worldwide. 

The Protector aircraft at Creech Air Force Base in the US last year (Picture: RAF).

"The Royal Air Force is delighted that the Belgian Air Force will stand beside us again on that historic journey."

Last month, the UK signed a £65 million contract to build its first three Protector drones, the first UK-operated system capable of strike missions anywhere in the world.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the contract, with the option for 13 more in due course.

The Protector will replace the RAF's current Reaper RPAS force and will be deployed on Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations from its base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.

The aircraft is expected to come with "next-generation" strike weapons, including the Brimstone 3 missile.

Cover image: The Protector aircraft (Picture: MOD).