The UK is to further expand the size of its fleet of Shadow R1 intelligence aircraft, with a sixth example within weeks of being delivered, it has been revealed.

Responding to a parliamentary question about in-service equipment on 4 July, minister for international security strategy Andrew Murrison estimated the net book value (NBV) of the Royal Air Force's current five Beechcraft King Air 350CER-based Shadow aircraft at a combined £72 million ($108 million).

"The figure comprises the NBV, plus assets in the course of construction yet to be formally transferred onto the fixed asset register, and the sixth aircraft, which is due for delivery at the end of July 2013," Murrison said.

 RAF Shadow R1 - Sunshine Band AirSpace

Sunshine Band gallery on

Assigned to the RAF's 14 Sqn and based at Waddington in Lincolnshire, the Shadow R1 is used to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks in Afghanistan. The system has been acquired via the UK Ministry of Defence's urgent operational requirement funding model.

Details of the Shadow's operational capabilities have not been revealed, but the fleet late last year achieved the milestone of having flown 10,000 operational hours. The current aircraft - which the RAF website categorises as "offensive support" assets - were delivered to the service between 2007 and 2011, as recorded in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.

Source: Flight International