UK's extra Reapers near acceptance

London
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The UK’s next batch of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Reaper unmanned air vehicles is nearing acceptance, with all five due to have completed testing before year-end.

“Equipment delivery is ongoing, with the first three new Reaper aircraft nearing completion of acceptance testing,” says minister for defence equipment, support and technology Philip Dunne. “The remaining two new Reaper aircraft are planned to begin and complete final acceptance testing over the next two months.”

While he declined to detail precise timings in a parliamentary answer on 15 October, Dunne says: “Once the new aircraft have completed acceptance testing, they will be moved to Afghanistan.”

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Ordered in 2010, the additional five air vehicles will double the size of the UK’s Reaper remotely piloted air system capability, which is operated by the Royal Air Force’s 13 and 39 squadrons. The armed type has been operated by the service inside Afghanistan since 2007.