Royal Air Force Shadow R1 continue to conduct surveillance flights over Gaza to help find the remaining hostages that were taken by Hamas.

The aircraft is operating from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus.

UK aircraft over Israel ‘solely to locate hostages’

In a recent parliamentary exchange, questions were raised about the use of RAF Shadow R1 flights over Gaza. Kenny MacAskill MP, representing the Alba Party from East Lothian, directed two separate written questions to the Ministry of Defence concerning the extent of intelligence-sharing and the objectives of these surveillance missions.

The first question, posed on April 29, 2024, asked whether the data collected by these flights had been shared with the International Criminal Court. In a similar vein, on May 2, 2024, MacAskill inquired whether the RAF reconnaissance missions had detected any evidence of mass graves in the areas of Nasser and Al-Shifa Hospital.

Leo Docherty, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence and Minister for the Armed Forces, addressed both questions. He clarified that the UK’s unarmed reconnaissance aircraft are “employed solely for the purpose of locating the remaining hostages.”

The minister’s response indicates a narrowly defined mission for the RAF operations in Gaza.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Adam (@guest_824247)
16 days ago

I just found out we’ve got six (soon to be eight) of these little beauties. I had no idea. I’ve read that the upgrade of our existing R1’s is supposed to deliver the first three R2’s in 2024. I can’t find any evidence the programme has been cut/reduced either. Is anyone aware where the R1 upgrade programme is up to and when we get those two new R2’s to take numbers up to eight..? I’m deffo no spy aircraft enthusiast; I’m just aware how thin on the ground the Rivets and Wedgies are/will be and didn’t know we had these… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_824304)
16 days ago
Reply to  Adam

How are they going to find the remaining hostages from observing from above? Can these aircraft see through walls, rubble, the ground? They could be deeper underground, broken up into smaller groups, maybe not even where they’re looking!? I am surprised that the have not been able to deduce where some of the 100+ remaining are from those already released. The hostages must be exhausted if not completely knackered. Can’t imagine they’re being treated very well and having to be on the move. Hope that if Hamas are cornered in Rafa that these hostages survive all this and hopefully the… Read more »

Fen Tiger
Fen Tiger (@guest_824345)
16 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

They are not trying to see through walls etc.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_824315)
16 days ago
Reply to  Adam

We had Defenders and Islanders too.
They cut them, and “replaced” them with these in service assets.
This aircraft cannot be compared to E7s or RC135, it has different capabilities.
They are sometimes found circling over British towns and cities, alongside contractor aircraft that support the Met Police, which replaced the RAF Northolt Stn Flights Islanders in the role.
Interestingly, as part of the very low key introduction to service, I recall they first deployed to RAF Syreston, the RAF CGS.