August 26, 2021 10.22 am This story is over 33 months old

SkyGuardian drone arrives at RAF Waddington ahead of testing trial

Trial flights ahead of a new fleet of drones coming to Lincolnshire

By Local Democracy Reporter

RAF Waddington is now the host of a new SkyGuardian drone after it landed in Lincolnshire for trial flights this week.

American company General Atomics has made plans for its SkyGuardian drone to take off from RAF Waddington between August and September this year, and it arrived in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, August 25.

The drone flights are in anticipation of the arrival of 16 Protector RG MK1s, which are replacing the current Reaper drones and are capable of being flown anywhere in the world while operated from personnel in Lincolnshire.

The General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian drone arriving at RAF Waddington. | Photo: Michael Hiley

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) is similar to the new equipment that will be based at RAF Waddington from 2024.

RAF Waddington has said that the Protector’s contribution will create over 200 jobs and reinvest £400 million into the UK economy.

Experimental flights will take place between August and September. | Photo: Mark Suffield

The plans for drone testing have been met with opposition by local residents, who held a protest outside RAF Waddington airbase earlier in August, calling for a halt to experimental drone flights.

Airspace regulators gave the SkyGuardian the go-ahead in July despite campaigners’ pleas, and will stay at RAF Waddington until it completes operations in North East Scotland, at RAF Lossiemouth, in October.

Arriving for its first mission. | Photo: Mark Suffield