San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced on April 6 it is the recipient of an $81 million foreign military sales contract from the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center for the United Kingdom MQ-9B PROTECTOR unmanned aircraft system program.

The contract provides for integration and component level testing for UK specific enhancements to support the program, according to a press release.

“MQ-9B represents the next generation of RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) system capabilities,” said Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics. “It has demonstrated new airborne endurance records (<48 hours) and automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM (Satellite Communications) only control.”

According to the press release, a weaponized variant of the system is being acquired by the Royal Air Force under the UK’s MQ-9B PROTECTOR program.

The UK and General Atomics have worked collaboratively to support program changes and continuing to meet growing interest in this unique capability, Young added.