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Future Unmanned Air Systems Capability

Volume 600: debated on Monday 12 October 2015

The UK’s intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and equipping our special forces are two high priority issues for the strategic defence and security review.

We have reached some early decisions in these two key areas. We will more than double the number of remotely piloted air systems in the RAF’s fleet, as we start to replace the 10 current Reapers with over 20 of the very latest air vehicles. We will also provide our special forces with new specialist weapons and clothing, as part of a programme to ensure that they remain at the cutting edge of technology.

The first RAF Reapers were deployed to Afghanistan in 2007, and are now flying vital missions over Iraq and Syria. We want to expand our capability as this area of technology rapidly develops, so we will start to introduce the new Protector aircraft. With its greater range and endurance, it will significantly increase our ability to identify, track, deter, and ultimately counter potential threats. Previously known as the Scavenger programme, Protector will substantially enhance the UK’s global intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

The new special forces equipment package will ensure we maintain clear operational advantage over adversaries, and enhance their ability to work with our key allies.

This investment will enable us to address sophisticated dangers both at home and abroad, and is only possible because this Government have committed to increase defence spending, meeting the NATO investment pledge and spending 2% of GDP on defence for the rest of this decade.