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December 2, 2023 3:17 am

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Disbanded RAF 31 Squadron Reformed To Operate The RG.1 Protector By 2024

31 Sqn Protector


31 Sqn Protector
Rendering of an RAF RG.1 Protector. (Picture created by The Aviationist utilizing GA ASI picture and 31 Sqn badge).

On October 11, 2023, the previously disbanded RAF No. 31 Squadron performed its reformation parade. It can turn out to be the primary RAF RG.1 Protector unit.

Final Wednesday, a reformation parade was held at RAF Waddington to mark No. 31 Squadron’s revival. The squadron, referred to as the Goldstars, are anticipated to be the RAF’s first RG.1 Protector working squadron. With the British authorities signing a cope with Common Atomics to amass 16 MQ-9B SkyGuardian platforms again in 2020, preparation for operation have been ramping up.

The RAF has given the MQ-9B a brand new designation of RG.1 Protector. The remotely piloted air system (RPAS) has been based mostly within the U.S. since earlier this 12 months after the primary airframe (PR005) was handed to the RAF. Pilots have been present process coaching of the platform at El Mirage, California with the plane since.

RG.1 Protector
RG.1 Protector has been based mostly in California for coaching the primary batch of RAF operators (Photograph RAF)

No 31 Sqn was reformed after 4 years for the reason that retirement of the Twister GR.4

Whereas the primary time the squadron was fashioned was again on October 11, 1915, underneath the Royal Flying Corps (earlier than the formation of the RAF), it was dissolved a variety of instances all through the years relying on the stock of the British air power.

31 Squadron boasts a wealthy historical past from being the primary army unit to fly in India with the B.E.2c, to working a big selection of plane in additional trendy instances from picture reconnaissance Canberra PR.7s, Phantom FGR.2s, to the nuclear succesful Jaguar GR.1s. Most notably, the Goldstars operated Panavia Tornados between 1984 to 2019. 31 Squadron was one of many three squadrons to fly the final GR.4 Tornados as much as their retirement in 2019. On March 14, 2019, the squadron disbanded quickly after the Twister’s service accomplished.

Now the Goldstars are anticipated to turn out to be the RAF’s first RPAS squadron based mostly on dwelling soil.

RAF is anticipating a complete of 29 RG.1 Protectors

With the UK authorities ordering an extra 13 platforms in 2021, the RAF is ready to function a complete of 29 RG.1s. The primary batch of Protectors are on its means from southern California to RAF Waddington. In accordance with Common Atomics, the primary Protector was loaded on an An-124 certain for the UK on September 29, 2023. With the squadron arrange, it’s anticipated that the primary Protectors might be seen flying over the skies of Lincolnshire very quickly. The RAF has set an entry to service date by mid-2024. As a spinoff of the MQ-9B, the RG.1 has 9 hardpoints with a max exterior payload capability of 4750 lbs (2155kg) for as much as 40+ hours of flight time.  The RAF plans on integrating Paveway IV laser guided bombs and Brimstone 3 air-to-surface missiles.

Wonwoo is a pupil journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based mostly in London, United Kingdom. At present learning MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a eager curiosity in OSINT, aircraft recognizing and plane design. He’s a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Military, having served as an artillery Fireplace Course Centre Automobile Radio Operator.


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