UK — New Reaper aircraft provides extra support to operations in Afghanistan

An extra Reaper remote­ly-pilot­ed air­craft has arrived in Afghanistan, increas­ing sup­port to troops.

A RAF Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) on patrol in the skies over Afghanistan
A RAF Reaper Remote­ly Pilot­ed Air Sys­tem (RPAS) on patrol in the skies over Afghanistan
Source: Pet­ty Offi­cer Air­man (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er) Tam McDon­ald, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

This lat­est addi­tion to the Roy­al Air Force’s Reaper fleet will allow 39 Squadron to fly mul­ti­ple Reaper air­craft at any one time over Afghanistan. 

A total of 36 hours of video sur­veil­lance can now be deliv­ered in sup­port of troops on the ground every day of the year, which marks an 80 per cent increase over the past 12 months. 

Reaper has been sup­port­ing ground forces in Afghanistan since Octo­ber 2007 and has now flown over 13,000 hours in direct sup­port of oper­a­tions. It pro­vides com­man­ders with a con­stant ‘eye in the sky’ that can seek out and track insur­gent activ­i­ty around patrols, search for poten­tial IEDs, and pro­vide an armed response if required. 

One of the Reaper pilots said: 

“My back­ground is fly­ing sup­port heli­copters on the bat­tle­field, but I have nev­er felt more con­nect­ed to the heart of the bat­tle on the ground than when I’m fly­ing the Reaper. 

“When you’re speak­ing to a sol­dier on the ground for hours at a time, night after night, look­ing around every cor­ner for him, scan­ning every tree line and react­ing every time his guys take fire, you feel like you real­ly are fight­ing along­side him. 

“You can hear the pal­pa­ble relief in the voic­es of the guys as we call them up on the radio and check in to pro­vide them with defen­sive cov­er and a heav­i­ly armed response if called upon. 

“It’s the most reward­ing mis­sion I’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­plete in the RAF.” 

The Reaper has a 66-foot (20m) wing span and is pow­ered by a tur­bo­prop engine that allows it to stay in the air for more than 16 hours at a time. It car­ries a mul­ti-spec­tral tar­get­ing sys­tem, more com­mon­ly referred to as ‘the ball’, which, day and night, col­lects video from thou­sands of feet above insur­gents, where it is unde­tectable. The air­craft also car­ries Hell­fire mis­siles and laser-guid­ed bombs, the release of which remain under the full con­trol of the Reaper pilots on the ground. 

Defence Sec­re­tary Dr Liam Fox said: 

“The arrival of this new air­craft demon­strates our ongo­ing com­mit­ment to ensur­ing that our troops on the front line get all the equip­ment that they need. 

“Reaper con­tin­ues to play a vital part in our air pow­er capa­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan and there is no doubt that this cut­ting-edge tech­nol­o­gy is sav­ing lives.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →