UK Orders More Reaper UAVs
posted by Mark Broadbent | 06.11.2009
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DASC) has announced that it has received an order from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 10 additional General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for the Royal Air Force.
The sales request comprises the 10 airframes plus related support equipment and systems. The DASC said the value of the order could be worth over $1 billion.
Supplementary equipment to be included in the deal would include ground control stations, synthetic target indication sensors and targeting systems.
Reaper Used By RAF In Afghanistan
The MoD placed an initial order for three Reapers in 2006 as the result of an Urgent Operational Requirement for an all-weather Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platform.
The first of these entered service with the RAF late last year, commencing operations from Kandahar in Afghanistan in October 2007 where it is used as part of Operation 'Herrick', the RAF's contribution to NATO and Coalition operations in the country.
According to sources, it is believed that the extra Reapers are being ordered in order to alleviate operational demands on the RAF's Nimrod MR2 force, which is currently used on operations in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.
Operated by the RAF's No 39 Squadron, the Reaper is primarily used in an unarmed ISTAR role but it was announced in December that the aircraft also has a secondary strike role. Presently, the RAF's aircraft are capable of carrying 500lb laser-guided bombs.
Reaper is also utilised by the US Air Force for combat missions in Afghanistan.