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RAF Awards Raytheon $149 Million Surveillance Aircraft Contract

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has awarded Raytheon UK a £110 million ($149 million) contract to expand and upgrade the Shadow surveillance aircraft fleet.

The Harlow-based defense manufacturer will expand the current fleet size of six Shadow aircraft to eight and install the latest UK Sovereign Defensive Aids Systems on the planes, helping the aircraft defend itself in adversarial airspace.

The RAF is expected to receive the first upgraded aircraft by June 2023 and the last before the end of 2025.

Shadow R1

The aircraft integrates the frame of a modified Beechcraft King Air 350CER with an airborne mission management system to provide Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance.

The aircraft’s high definition electro-optical and electronic sensors provide intelligence while its satellite communications links “enable information to be downloaded and off-boarded during a mission.”

Part of Future Defense Preparedness 

Group Captain Shaun Gee, Shadow Programme Senior Responsible Owner, said that the “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.”

The Shadow contract is expected to support 150 highly-skilled jobs in Broughton, Wales, and sustain around 350 additional jobs across the UK supply chain.

The aircraft upgrade is part of the UK government’s vision to prepare the armed forces for new and emerging threats. A £24 billion ($32 billion) spending increase over the next four years has been announced for the purpose.

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