The Conservative Government has chosen RAF Waddington to be the home of the Protector International Training Centre, as part of a £94 million investment into infrastructure improvements to assist with housing the aircraft ahead of its entry into service in 2024.
The UK has ordered 16 protector aircraft from General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), all of which will be based at RAF Waddington, the RAF’s ISTAR hub.
A key feature of the investment at RAF Waddington will be the development of a new campus which will include the Protector International Training Centre. Housing the Synthetic Training System for the aircraft, the centre will enable crews from the RAF and international partners to conduct a significant amount of their training in a secure environment, linking in future with the Defence Collective Training environment under the UK Gladiator programme.
The new campus will support jobs across the Constituency and the County as a whole, with contracts awarded in the coming months for infrastructure improvements at the base. The campus will feature new Single Living Accommodation for Protector ground crews, a hangar, office facilities, a new road to the Protector area of RAF Waddington and a new taxiway.
Karl, whose Lincoln Constituency includes RAF Waddington, said: “This investment is a real vote of confidence in RAF Waddington and continues to cement the air station’s place as being fundamental to the defence of our country. It is a huge milestone in the Government’s and ensures the RAF continues to have world-leading capability.
“This investment including the new campus will support jobs across the Constituency and the County as a whole, which is of huge benefit too. Lincoln is already world-renowned for its high-technology defence and engineering sector and this investment is another clear signal of the quality why it has such a strong and deserved reputation.”
Operating from the Lincolnshire station, the SkyGuardian aircraft has undertaken a number of sorties showcasing its impressive capabilities while also providing vital information for personnel at RAF.
The investment marks an important step in the development of the revolutionary Detect and Avoid technology, permitting Protector to fly in unsegregated airspace safely – as the world’s first Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, Protector will significantly boost the RAF’s armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability.
The UK’s Protector programme and the investment at RAF Waddington form part of commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper to ensure the RAF are equipped to face future threats. This is further enhanced by the £24 billion increase in defence spending over the next four years announced by the Prime Minister last November.