New cutting-edge drones will be specially developed for the RAF after a contract worth £100 million was approved by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Developed by California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the new unmanned Protector aerial vehicles will be equipped with the latest technology, including advanced imaging and enhanced datalink technology.
The drones could also be armed with UK-made Brimstone 2 missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.
Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “Britain faces ever-evolving threats and we must look at innovative solutions to stay ahead of our enemies. Doubling our unmanned air fleet will substantially enhance both the intelligence gathering and firepower of the RAF.
“The UK’s security partnership with the US is the deepest and most advanced of any two nations on earth; this programme is part of a further strengthening which will help keep Britain safe and secure.”
It is expected that the first new drones will be ready for demonstration by October 2017.