LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron called for increased spending by the British military on remotely piloted vehicles (RPV), air surveillance assets and special forces during a Monday visit to the Royal Air Force base at Waddington in eastern England.
Cameron signaled he wants the armed forces to particularly look at increasing counter terror capabilities in the government’s strategic defense and security review (SDSR), which is expected to report in the fourth quarter of the year.
“I have tasked the defense and security chiefs to look specifically at how we do more to counter the threat posed by ISIL and Islamist extremism,” the prime minister said during a flying visit to the RAF’s main RPV and ISTAR operating base, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group. “This could include more spy planes, drones and special forces. In the last five years, I have seen just how vital these assets are in keeping us safe.”
The Royal Air Force already operates 10 armed General Atomics Reaper drones and the Army has a fleet of smaller Thales UK-built tactical Watchkeeper RPVs.
The Reapers have been widely used by the British first in Afghanistan and now most of the fleet is deployed against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Along with Tornado strike aircraft, the RAF has hit 300 targets and conducted over 1,000 missions.The British only conduct strike missions in Iraq with Syrian operations being limited to surveillance.