The Royal Air Force has revealed it will be increasing the number of Shadow R1 surveillance aircraft in its fleet from six to eight airframes under a new contract with Raytheon.
In addition to delivering the new aircraft, Raytheon UK will also integrate the remainder of the fleet with the latest UK sovereign defensive aids systems.
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 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 defensive aids system. The system will increase the ability of the aircraft to defend themselves and operate in unfriendly airspace.
“This investment will enable the Shadow fleet to be increased in size and equipped with the latest technology providing a key capability as part of the RAF’s next generation Air Force. It is expected the first upgraded aircraft will be delivered to the RAF in June 2023, with delivery of the eighth Shadow R Mk2 aircraft before the end of 2025,” Group Captain Shaun Gee, Shadow program senior responsible owner, said.
The latest order comes after the Royal Air Force received the first of an initial batch of four Shadows in 2009. The fleet was later upgraded to six airframes under the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.