System Was Introduced In 2007
The RAF Reaper force, controlled by 39 Squadron, has repeatedly
proven itself, both in combat and as eyes in the skies for front
line troops and military commanders on the ground.
"The RAF's Reaper force has proven itself time and again in
combat and is an essential element of the RAF's combat
intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance
capability," said Air Officer Commanding No 2 Group, Air
Vice-Marshal Phil Osborn. "The real-time, day and night video
coverage of the battle space, combined with the extensive use of
onboard radar, provides a unique, cost effective and sustained
capability that enhances the safety of troops on the ground. This
cutting-edge remotely-piloted aircraft provides an impressive range
of capabilities that are saving lives and making a real difference
to the troops in Afghanistan. The aircraft is only as good as the
individuals operating it though and I am most grateful for and must
praise the dedication and operational focus of all the members of
39 Squadron, who are drawn from across all three Services, in
achieving this milestone."
"When you're assisting troops on the ground and insurgents are
trying to take shots at them we can be called to use the Reaper's
precision weapons. As with fast jets, you're still speaking to the
troops on the ground and feel immersed in the operational
environment," said a Reaper pilot from 39 Squadron after a recent
tour in Afghanistan. "In many ways, you actually feel better
connected to the situation on the ground than you do in a fast jet
- the detailed computer systems that we've got with Reaper make it
easier to get better intelligence pictures."
Reaper was introduced in October 2007, and, with its array of
high tech sensors and precision-guided weapons, it can carry out a
wide range of missions to support forces in Afghanistan. It can
gather pre-raid intelligence on target compounds, assist in
countering IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and provide
surveillance for routine patrols and supply convoys.
Reaper can use its sensors day and night to spy on insurgent
activity for hours at a time and at a range where it is undetected
from the ground. The images are complemented by radar, mounted in
the nose of the aircraft, gathering another dimension of detailed
imagery that is analysed by a team of highly trained intelligence
specialists in military bases around the world.
If necessary, Reaper can also strike at insurgents with a range
of precision-guided weapons.