Raytheon inks contract to support RAF’s surveillance aircraft

US defence group Raytheon has signed a £250m contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to provide support services to the Royal Air Force’s fleet of surveillance aircraft for just over a decade.

The 11-year contract to support the RAF’s fleet of Shadow aircraft will secure 200 jobs at Raytheon’s intelligence and surveillance hub in North Wales when work begins in April. An additional 250 jobs will be sustained within the UK supply chain.

“We are safeguarding and creating skilled aerospace jobs in the UK and strengthening the local economy,” said Richard Daniel, chief executive and managing director of Raytheon UK.

It marks the first contract award under a partnership agreed in 2017 between the MoD and industry, led by Raytheon UK, for an upgrade programme for the Shadow, a modified King Air 350 twin-turboprop, which has been operated by the RAF since late last decade. The so-called Shadow R Mk1 improves military commanders’ awareness of both ground and air activities.

Raytheon’s UK arm will also support aircraft modification design and integration under the contract, which also covers an eventual upgrade of the aircraft to a “Mk2” version with even greater capabilities.

The MoD outlined its Shadow modernisation priorities within its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, including increasing its fleet size from five to eight. The type is expected to remain in operational use until 2030.

“We are creating the world’s leading hub for advanced ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platforms in Broughton,” said Roland Howell, director of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at Raytheon UK.

“We will work with Team Shadow to make sure we deliver the tactical ISR capability needed for UK defence.”

Stuart Andrew, defence minister, said the investment “will ensure the UK retains its position as a global leader in battlefield intelligence gathering for UK troops and our Nato allies”.

Raytheon is among a number of US defence groups with operations in the UK. The company employs 1,700 people at several facilities including Broughton, Waddington and Manchester. Its UK arm generated £461m in sales in 2017.

Boeing, which has secured numerous contracts with the MoD, last October opened its first production facility in the UK. It set up a new manufacturing facility in Sheffield, which will supply components for the 737 and 767 programmes. It was the company’s first manufacturing site in Europe, representing a £40m investment.


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