LONDON, Jan. 3 (Xinhua)-- The British Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a 250-million-pound (315.5 million U.S. dollars) deal to support the Royal Air Force's (RAF) intelligence-gathering Shadow aircraft fleet, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew announced on Thursday.
He said the new contract signed with Raytheon will sustain a total of 450 jobs at the company's facilities in Broughton, North Wales, and across the UK supply chain.
Under the new contract, services will also be established at RAF Waddington, home of RAF's intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) fleet, to ensure aircraft availability.
The support contract will cover maintenance, airworthiness, design and supplier management services as well as modification and integration work, which will allow Shadow to be upgraded in the future.
The MOD statement identified Shadow as a highly capable ISTAR aircraft fleet, which performs key operations all around the world.
Shadow aircraft have also been on operations above battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under commitments laid out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the UK is bringing a total of eight Shadow aircraft into RAF service.
"This 250 million pound investment will ensure the UK retains its position as a global leader in battlefield intelligence gathering for UK troops and our NATO allies," said the minister.
"It is also great news for the economy through the safeguarding of 450 skilled jobs across the country, including 200 in North Wales, confirming the region as a UK centre of excellence for air support," he added.