The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has awarded Raytheon UK a £110m contract to upgrade the service’s Shadow surveillance aircraft fleet.

The current fleet of Shadow surveillance aircraft fleet will be upgraded with the latest UK Sovereign Defensive Aids Systems (DAS).

The advanced DAS safeguards the aircraft from possible attack while allowing it to continue intelligence gathering in the future.

The contract will also see the addition of two more aircraft, taking the RAF’s existing fleet of six aircraft to eight.

Around 150 jobs will be supported at Broughton, UK, as well as specialist aerospace skills and apprentices and other positions at the company’s facilities at Harlow and RAF Waddington.

Furthermore, the award is expected to sustain an additional 350 jobs across the UK supply chain.

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UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Our newly upgraded Shadow Mk2 aircraft will be equipped with world-leading technology developed right here in the UK.

“This investment supports vital defence outputs and 150 high-quality jobs in north Wales.”

Developed by Raytheon, Shadow is an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft. It is currently in operation with the 14th Squadron of the RAF.

During a mission, the aircraft uses high-definition (HD) electro-optical (EO) and electronic sensors to gather intelligence and remains airborne while data is evaluated via satellite communication links.

UK Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: “The signing of this contract with Raytheon is huge news for North Wales and testament to the incredibly skilled local workforce whose hard work, dedication and professionalism have rightly been recognised.

“This is levelling up in action – the UK Government, working with our partners and using our spending power to support jobs and prosperity in every part of the UK.

“Today that levelling up is happening in Broughton with the signing of this £110m contract.”

The RAF is expected to receive the first upgraded Shadow surveillance aircraft in June 2023, with delivery of the eighth Shadow R Mk2 jet scheduled to take place by 2025.