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RAF's Reaper logs 10, 000 hours over Afghanistan

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Royal Air Force Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System. Photo by Antony Loveless, Crown (UK MoD)

LONDON (BNS): The Royal Air Force's (RAF) Reaper programme has achieved the milestone of providing more than 10,000 hours of armed overwatch in support of UK and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The UK Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) has been deployed to Afghanistan since October 2007 and provides a persistent, armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

"10,000 hours in direct support of operations is a significant milestone, said Air Vice-Marshal Baz North, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, according to a news report by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The RPAS is an integral part of the UK's air power capability. Procured to meet an urgent operational requirement, Reaper is the only RPAS currently in service with the RAF.

"This network-enabled force has delivered a comprehensive combat ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability that provides assured intelligence and situational awareness across the full range of operating environments, through the employment and integration of air, space and cyber systems," added North.

Reaper's primary role is ISR but from May 2008 the system has been armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs to enable it to better meet the requirements of ground commanders.

Reaper is flown by 39 Squadron via satellite from a UK operations facility at Creech Air Force Base in the Nevada desert, and provides a range of ISR products to troops on the ground and operational headquarters.

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