UK de­ploys Reaper to the Mid­dle East

SP's MAI - - UNMANNED UPDATES -

The De­fence Sec­re­tary has an­nounced that UK Reaper re­motely-pi­loted air­craft sys­tems (RPAS) will be de­ployed in the ef­forts to com­bat ISIL.

The de­ploy­ment will see the Royal Air Force RPAS pro­vide ad­di­tional in­tel­li­gence, surveil­lance and re­con­nais­sance support to the Iraqi Gov­ern­ment and coali­tion al­lies in support of our na­tional in­ter­ests and on­go­ing ef­forts to com­bat ISIL. Reaper op­er­a­tions are ex­pected to start shortly.

Since the grant­ing of par­lia­men­tary ap­proval last month the UK has con­ducted air strikes on mul­ti­ple ISIL tar­gets in north­ern Iraq, op­er­at­ing from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The de­ploy­ment of RPAS com­ple­ments the ex­ist­ing surveil­lance as­sets al­ready in the re­gion.

De­fence Sec­re­tary Michael Fal­lon said: “The surveil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity of Reaper will see it pro­vide vi­tal sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, mak­ing it an in­valu­able as­set to the Iraqi Gov­ern­ment and the coali­tion al­lies in help­ing counter the threat from ISIL and sup­port­ing our vi­tal in­ter­ests in the area.

Reaper is the UK’s only armed re­motely-pi­loted air­craft. The de­ploy­ment of Reaper to the Mid­dle East co­in­cides with the con­clu­sion of the first UK train­ing pro­gramme for Kur­dish forces in North­ern Iraq.

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