The Protector Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) Programme will deliver a UK capability for medium-altitude, long-endurance armed Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) up to 2035 and beyond. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) intend for Protector to be enabled by UK Communications and Information Systems (CIS), ensuring the platform can conduct independent worldwide operations for the UK and its interests, whilst capable of interoperability with allies.

Capabilities Employed

The Challenge

The MoD urgently required SA Group to coordinate development and delivery activities with teams from industry, and internally across the MoD for both Initial Operating Capability (IOC) and Release to Service (RTS), in addition to purchase, delivery, development and the integration of multiple systems to enable overseas and UK flight testing.

The Senior Responsible Owner for the Programme held Information and Communications as the most significant risk to the Protector programme.

The main components of this task were:

  • Local and Wide Area Network (LAN/WAN) development at the Main UK Operating Base
  • Satellite and ground communications elements of RPAS Command and Control (C2) network
  • Integration of MoD core Information Systems into the RPAS
  • Development of an enterprise architecture for Protector and its supporting systems.

The Solution

SA Group's consultants worked to the Royal Air Force's requirements, aligning deliverable solutions with Defence Digital Programmes, Enterprise Architecture, and security requirements.

Architecture had been seen as a significant impediment to delivery across the programme, but our consultants were able to identify key stakeholders and their architectural requirements, and use this information to design an effective development process. They managed a team of contractors and crown servants to deliver the architecture in accordance with defence architectural principles and standards.

Systems integration for remote air system

The Result

SA Group consultants coordinated with various delivery teams within Defence Digital and acted as the focal point for Air Command's Capability Branch, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) delivery teams, and the end customer. Their activities and dependencies were documented, and the information aspects were brought in line with the Programme Schedule to guarantee timely delivery of agreed and planned outputs. This was achieved using MoD commercial and financial frameworks to ensure the right funding and resource was planned for, whilst managing how they contribute to the overall programme's requirements.

Security Assurance of the Remotely Piloted Air System is paramount but must maintain flexibility for user effectiveness. SA Group consultants worked with pan-organisation Engineering and Security specialists to ensure the delivered systems would meet MoD accreditation standards and operational requirements.

Using Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) sanctioned tools for project management, and Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies and Opportunities (RAIDO) management to ensure the correct level of visibility for representative plans and milestones, SA Group consultants escalated appropriate risks for representation at Programme Working Group and Board level. They also worked in collaboration with DE&S and the Programme Digital Applications (DIDA) case officer to ensure that Protector would be compliant with the MoD network joining rules.

This important project is ongoing up to 2035 and beyond, and we're pleased to be part of it.

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