RAF Reaper UAV (MoD Handout)
Op Shader

'Phenomenal' Reaper Crews Receive First Op Shader Medals

Fifty-six Operation Shader medals were awarded to British personnel.

RAF Reaper UAV (MoD Handout)

Reaper crews operate the UAV on operations in the Middle East from as far away as Iraq and Syria (Picture: MOD).

Members of the RAF reaper force have been awarded service medals for their work on Operation Shader for the very first time.

They are the first Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) crews to be given the medal since the eligibility criteria changed earlier this year.

In total, 56 medals were handed out to members of 39 Squadron, 54 Squadron and the Protector team, including two each to Royal Navy and British Army personnel.

The ceremony was held at Creech Air Force Base in the United States, from where 39 Squadron conducts Reaper operations in the Middle East.

Operation Shader, the UK's contribution to the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS), has seen the RAF conduct more than 1,000 airstrikes against terror targets in Iraq and Syria.

Watch: What the work of personnel who operate the Reaper is really like.

The Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle and can be operated thousands of miles away by its crew.

Now, members of the Reaper force from the Nevada-based Creech Air Force Base, RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and the Protector team have been recognised.

Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth, Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, said he was "really happy" RPAS personnel were being recognised.

"It’s also absolutely right and proper that they get recognition through the medal because of their contribution to the success of the operation is just phenomenal," he continued.

Wing Commander Colin Welsh, Officer Commanding 39 Squadron, said: "Reaper is a great force enabler and I have no doubt whatsoever that the capabilities provided by RPAS, and the people who are providing those capabilities behind them, are absolutely vital to the way we fight war today."