FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov 08, 2007
The RAF’s first Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Britain’s most sophisticated unmanned surveillance system, has taken to the air in Afghanistan.
The Reaper UAVs were purchased as a MoD urgent operational requirement to provide an all-weather, persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability 24 hours a day over a wide geographical spread. This gives our troops on all operations a better picture of activity on the ground.
The rapid and successful deployment of Reaper, 15 months from requirement to delivery to theatre, demonstrates the flexibility and agility of MoD’s procurement process for equipment for operations. The first of 3 British Reapers arrived in Afghanistan in early October.
Sir Glenn Torpy, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “The introduction into service of Reaper is a major milestone for the RAF, which will significantly enhance the UK’s surveillance and reconnaissance capability in Afghanistan.”
The RAF’s participation in the joint US/UK Combined Predator Task Force gave them a unique insight into the USAF (US Air Force) Predator A operations, which allowed a seamless transition to the RAF’s use of Reaper, the UK variant of Predator B.
USAF Chief of Staff, General Michael T Moseley, said: “We’re pleased to be able to deliver these aircraft so quickly because they’re vital to the coalition’s war effort in Afghanistan. They’re also yet another demonstration of the need for interoperability in our equipment. By partnering on the Reaper, our air forces can operate more seamlessly and field more aircraft faster and more economically.”
Reaper will be flown by 39 Squadron Personnel. Training for Reaper pilots and sensor operators will be provided by the USAF building on the experience of No 1115 Flight operating Predator A.
Notes to Editors:
Reaper’s first flight was not publicised until the in service date (31 October 2007) was reached.
Reaper was formerly known as Predator B.
No 1115 Flight, formed in 2004, were embedded with the USAF for the last (3 ½ years) operating Predator A. No 1115 Flight will continue to operate Predator A in this way, but they will become part of 39 Squadron for administrative functions.
39 Squadron is made up of predominantly RAF, but also has Army and Navy personnel working in a number of functional areas.
The Reaper capability is still being developed. Training will continue alongside some operational missions and there will be a steady build up to a full UK capability.
The Reaper UAV is currently unarmed. It is capable of being armed and the MoD is investigating arming options.
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