The UK Royal Air Force will receive its first of two Predator B unmanned air vehicles from General Atomics next month, and aims to deploy the aircraft to support coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq from the third quarter of this year.

To be assigned to Waddington, Lincolnshire-based 39 Sqn - until last year equipped with English Electric Canberra PR9 photo-reconnaissance aircraft - the Predator Bs are being introduced under an urgent operational requirement deal intended to plug a shortfall in the RAF's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

Chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy says: "The aircraft comes with an offensive capability, and we will look to exploit that as quickly as we can."

Source: Flight International