The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has revealed that XIII Squadron will be the second operational unit of the Protector RG1 remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS).

Currently, the squadron is based at RAF Waddington from where crew operate the Reaper RPAS on overseas operations.

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems is under contract to deliver SkyGuardian RPAS, which will be known as Protector aircraft following its induction into the RAF.

The contract is for a total of 16 Protector aircraft.

Currently, Britain’s new Protector ‘SkyGuardian’ is in the UK as part of preparations for the new aircraft arrival at RAF Waddington in 2023.

Last week, the UK Government selected RAF Waddington air station as the home of the Protector International Training Centre.

The airbase has been selected as part of a £94m investment aimed at modernising and improving infrastructure for Protector operations.

RAF Air Staff Chief chief marshal Mike Wigston said: “I am delighted to announce that the second squadron to operate this new aircraft will be XIII Squadron.

“Equipped with Protector squadron personnel will be capable of operating anywhere in the world providing the United Kingdom with an operational advantage by delivering intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance effect at range and speed.”

The Protector RG MK1 is a next-generation RPAS intended for use in medium-altitude and long-endurance (MALE) applications.

It will boost the RAF’s armed intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability.

The RPAS brings improved armed surveillance capabilities, including extended range, increased payload and planned integration of British weapons.

RAF ISTAR Force Commander air commodore Hay said: “The arrival of Protector at RAF Waddington will mark a real stepped change in our RPAS capability and ability to support a multitude of operations from both home and abroad.

“I have every confidence in XIII Squadron’s ability to get the very best out of this new and exciting capability.

“Never has their Squadron motto, ‘we assist by watching’ seemed more appropriate to their future task in hand.”