RAF’s Shadow fleet to be increased and upgraded with the latest defensive technology 03112021 Credit MOD.jpg
RAF Shadow Fleet is set to increase their fleet to eight Shadow Mk2 aircrafts (Picture: MOD)
RAF

Size of RAF Shadow fleet to be increased as part of £110m upgrade

It is expected the first upgraded aircraft will be delivered to the RAF in 2023, with the eighth Shadow R Mk2 aircraft in 2025.

RAF’s Shadow fleet to be increased and upgraded with the latest defensive technology 03112021 Credit MOD.jpg
RAF Shadow Fleet is set to increase their fleet to eight Shadow Mk2 aircrafts (Picture: MOD)

The RAF's Shadow surveillance aircraft fleet is set for an upgrade following a boost of £110m.

Currently, the fleet contains six aircraft and, with the new contract, this is set to rise to eight "newly upgraded Shadow Mk2 aircraft".

Based at RAF Waddington and flown by 14 Squadron, Shadow forms a key part of the RAF's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) force by gathering intelligence via its high-definition electro-optical and electronic sensors.

Once the data is gathered, satellite communication links enable the information to be assessed while the aircraft is airborne during a mission.

To protect the aircraft from possible attack, the aircraft will be fitted with an improved state-of-the-art Defensive Aids System (DAS).

As part of the contract, the latest DAS will be installed across the fleet of eight aircraft, increasing its ability to defend itself and operate in unfriendly airspace.

The contract awarded to Raytheon UK is set to support 150 "highly-skilled" jobs in Broughton, Wales, including specialist aerospace skills and apprentices, and roles at Raytheon's sites at RAF Waddington and Harlow.

The contract will also sustain about 350 further jobs across the UK supply chain.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: "Our newly upgraded Shadow Mk2 aircraft be equipped with world-leading technology developed right here in the UK.

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"This investment supports vital defence outputs and 150 high-quality jobs in North Wales."

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart called it "huge news" for North Wales and a "testament to the incredibly skilled local workforce whose hard work, dedication and professionalism have rightly been recognised".

He added: "This is levelling up in action – the UK Government, working with our partners and using our spending power to support jobs and prosperity in every part of the UK.

"Today that levelling up is happening in Broughton with the signing of this £110m contract." 

The investment for an upgraded Shadow fleet forms part of the vision laid out in the Defence Command Paper, which is ensuring that the Armed Forces are prepared for new and emerging threats.

This ambition is underpinned by a £24bn increase in defence spending over the next four years.