General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) said today it completed key system-level tests for the new Protector RG Mk1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
The Protector is the UK Royal Air Force’s version of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, which is GA-ASI’s latest model of RPA and is on track to become the world’s first certified Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) RPA. The first Protector is expected to complete its test and evaluation program late 2022 and arrive in the UK in 2023.
The recently completed tests include Full-Scale Static Strength, High-Intensity Radiated Frequency (HIRF) and Environmental Testing. Most of the tests were performed by GA-ASI using internal research and development funding with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and U.S. Air Force supporting key elements of the HIRF testing.
The Full-Scale Static (FSS) test included multiple stress tests where the full fuselage, wings, tails and landing gear were tested to 150% of the highest operational loads. FSS tests the strength of all the major structures in the aircraft, verifying its safety and reliability when operated at maximum airspeeds and G-loads. This is key to demonstrating the aircraft’s airworthiness, which will enable Protector to fly in all classes of UK and international airspace.
Environmental Testing took place at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base and featured a variety of tests, such as extreme cold temperature (to -33 degrees Celsius), in-flight ice, supercooled fog, in-flight rain, high humidity, and high temperature with solar load.
High-Intensity Radiated Frequency testing occurred at the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3) Test Facility at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River where the system was subjected to high-intensity electromagnetic radiation across the full operational electromagnetic spectrum. The test program also included the Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Ordnance (HERO) testing for the Protector weapons load-out.