A pre-production example of the UK’s new Protector aircraft took to the skies in september 2021 09092021 CREDIT RAF MOD.jpg
A pre-production example of the UK's Protector aircraft which took to the UK skies in 2021 (Picture: RAF/ MOD).
RAF

MOD admits the cost of RAF drones project has risen by half a billion pounds

A pre-production example of the UK’s new Protector aircraft took to the skies in september 2021 09092021 CREDIT RAF MOD.jpg
A pre-production example of the UK's Protector aircraft which took to the UK skies in 2021 (Picture: RAF/ MOD).

Costs for the RAF's next generation of drones have jumped by more than half a billion pounds, to £1.35bn, according to official figures.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) figures revealed that the costs of the RAF drones Protector programme would hit nearly £1.35bn, up from an initial budget of £816m in 2016.

The MOD also conceded that the drones which had been expected to be in service in 2018, would not now be in action until the end of this year.

The figures were in response to questions from Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey.

While the weakened pound was partially to blame for the rising costs, the MOD also said the drones' sensors needed upgrading to make them even more effective.

Mr Healey has said that this was the "latest example of how Conservative ministers have lost control of costs and contracts", and that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had "no plan to get a grip on problems".

He warned that "with threats increasing, this Government risks leaving our Armed Forces without the equipment they need to fulfil our Nato obligations".

"A Labour government would commission the NAO (National Audit Office) to conduct an across-the-board audit of MOD waste and implement a 'Nato Test' to all major defence projects in our first 100 days to ensure we are meeting our obligations to Nato in full."

Watch: All you need to know about RAF's next-generation Protector aircraft.

An MOD spokesman said: "Protector is at the leading edge of innovative technology and will provide the UK with an unparalleled armed intelligence and surveillance capability."

He added that the cost increase was due to an agreed delay to the programme and "an upgrade to Protector's primary sensor, enhancing its battlefield capabilities even further than originally planned".