The first stage of work has begun at RAF Waddington in preparation for the arrival of Protector, the RAF’s and World’s first certified Remotely Piloted Aircraft System.
As announced by the Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, in September 2021, the air Station is to benefit from a £94 million investment for infrastructure improvements to support this Next Generation capability which will enter service in 2024.
The initial work, starting this week, will focus on upgrading and expanding the communications infrastructure (CIS) for the whole Station, which includes enabling the site of the new Protector Force. These upgrades will more specifically include a high-capacity fibre optic communications ring that will benefit all Squadrons, the Air Space Warfare Centre and the incoming Red Arrows who will arrive at the end of 2022. The work heralds the beginning of a busy upgrade and construction programme that will continue throughout 2022, 2023 and into 2024.
Importantly, as the home of the RAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force, RAF Waddington’s CIS capability improvements will have the capacity and resilience to serve the unit for many years, helping to ensure the delivery of time-sensitive intelligence from anywhere in the world to decision-makers at the speed of relevance.
“The enhanced communications infrastructure is an important stage in the preparations for Protector and the Next Generation Air Force. This is the start of a significant investment programme that will see the Ministry of Defence upgrade many of the key facilities here at RAF Waddington. Enhancing our ability to capture, analyse and distribute data, paving the way for us to safely operate the Protector Air System, further fortifying RAF Waddington’s place as the UK’s ISTAR hub.”
Group Captain Mark Lorriman-Hughes,
RAF Waddington’s Station Commander
Protector, 16 of which are on order for the RAF, will be deployed in wide-ranging ISTAR operations where its ability to fly consistently for up to 40 hours, offers the RAF vastly improved ISTAR capability, ensuring that RAF Waddington remains at the forefront of delivering Defence capability.