The UK Ministry of Defence recently confirmed the addition of five new MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), used for reconnaissance and combat operations.
The 10 Reaper UAVs are flying from the Kandahar airfield with a focus on supporting the International Security Assistance Force. Despite combat operations ending at the end of the year, the Reapers will continue to utilize intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in support of the Afghan government.
Here is what the MoD said in a statement:
“These aircraft provide real-time, life-saving video to ground commanders, which will continue to be vital to allied efforts to secure internal security in Afghanistan as we draw down allied forces from the country this year.”
In a statement, Philip Dunne, UK minister for defence equipment, support and technology noted:
“These new aircraft give the RAF enhanced force protection capability in support of UK, ISAF and Afghan troops. As we focus on the drawdown of UK forces from Afghanistan, the ability to provide force protection will become increasingly important, and [the] Reaper allows us to provide this assurance remotely and without significant ground presence.”
The British Army has 450 Hermes UAVs already serving in Afghanistan, which has seen an increase in unmanned aircraft patrolling the skies.
The United States government garners criticism for its use of UAV drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the RAF has utilized its smaller fleet more for reconnaissance and support.
Thank you to Flight Global for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Defence Industry Daily