The R1 Shadow aircraft forms part of the RAF's intelligence-gathering fleet © Crown Copyright
The R1 Shadow aircraft forms part of the RAF's intelligence-gathering fleet © Crown Copyright

MoD surveillance contract safeguards 450 jobs

The MoD has signed a £250m contract with Raytheon Systems Ltd (RSL) to support the RAF’s intelligence-gathering Shadow aircraft fleet, safeguarding 450 skilled workers across the UK.

Under the 11-year contract RSL will support the Shadow aircraft with cyber security, maintenance, airworthiness management, design organisation and supply chain support. Beginning in April, Raytheon's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) hub in North Wales will secure 200 full-time jobs, with an additional 250 sustained within the UK supply chain, said Raytheon.

The deal will provide support to the RAF’s ISR Shadow team, 14 Squadron, which has used the aircraft in global operations, including above battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Roland Howell, managing director of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at Raytheon UK, said: "We are creating the world's leading hub for advanced ISR platforms in Broughton.

"We will work with Team Shadow to make sure we deliver the tactical ISR capability needed for UK defence."

Under the contract the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Fixed Wing Manned Airborne Surveillance delivery team will collaborate with RSL to provide support, modifications and capability upgrades to the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) fleet.

Air ISTAR programme director Group Captain Shaun Gee said: “This contract award marks a key milestone in cementing the excellent partnership between the MoD with RSL (UK). It delivers vital ongoing support to operations and, crucially, enables future, rapid development of the Shadow platform which will ensure the capability remains at the cutting edge of technology providing a world-class tactical ISR capability for the UK.”

The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) stated an ambition to aquire eight Shadow aircraft. The SDSR annual report 2016 stated: "We continue to invest in our front line defence capability, with £178 billion committed to defence equipment and equipment support over the next decade."

Availability-focused services will be integrated at RAF Waddington, the home of the RAF’s ISTAR fleet, and capability and upgrade services will be based at Broughton, Raytheon’s UK branch hub.

Defence minister Stuart Andrew said: “This £250m investment will ensure the UK retains its position as a global leader in battlefield intelligence gathering for UK troops and our NATO allies.”

DE&S has a £14bn annual budget to support the the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. CEO Sir Simon Bollom said: “DE&S is proud to continue to work with our partners across industry to deliver world-class support to the RAF’s Shadow fleet. The continuing investment in support safeguards jobs and expertise which will provide safe and available aircraft in support of UK troops.”

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