Its ability to deploy during the day and night coupled with the technology it uses, will give commanders a clearer picture of the operational situation whenever it’s required.

Mr Philip Dunne

It stays airborne around for 15 to 18 hours at distances upwards of 70 miles from the ship.

Once its flight is over it returns to the mother ship where it’s caught by dangling a rope vertically, which catches in a hook at either end of each wing. The aircraft is grappled by a recovery device and lifted back on board.

“ScanEagle represents an important addition to the Royal Navy’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability,”

said Capt Ian Annett, who’s been involved with the project.

“Its ability to deploy during the day and night coupled with the technology it uses, will give commanders a clearer picture of the operational situation whenever it’s required."

Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, added:

“ScanEagle provides the Royal Navy with proven surveillance capability that has already been used on operations by other nations, so we know we are getting top quality equipment. The technology is off-the-shelf and will be available to the Royal Navy as soon as possible.

“Our continued investment in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems is essential to keeping our Armed Forces up to date with the latest capabilities and this will be a central part of the MoD's investment in new equipment over the next 10 years.”