About the Shadow R1


Through a combination of sensors, Shadow contributes to the comprehensive intelligence gathering of the RAFs ISTAR Force. Its output is particularly valuable to ground commanders.


The Shadow’s high definition electro-optical and electronic sensors complements other platforms and capabilities, helping analysts prepare comprehensive intelligence products.  Satellite communications links enable information to be downloaded and off-boarded during a mission and the aircraft is also fitted with a defensive aids suite.

The Shadow in level flight.
Shadow incorporates a comprehensive mission suite.  Image by: Corporal Steve Buckley.


Originally a Beechcraft product, subsequently marketed as Beech and then Hawker Beechcraft under Raytheon ownership, and now regarded as a Beechcraft product under Textron Aviation, the King Air has most recently been developed into the King Air 350.  More capable than earlier versions, the King Air 350 was selected as a special missions platform from the outset against an urgent need to improve intelligence gathering in Afghanistan.

This requirement led the MOD to commission an initial four Shadow R Mark 1 aircraft, based on the King Air 350CER, under an Urgent Operational Requirement.  Delivered to the RAF to be operated by 5 (AC) Squadron in 2009, the Shadow features an under fuselage electro-optical sensor turret, a variety of integrated sensors and an extensive communications capability, managed from operator consoles in the cabin.

Number 5 (AC) Squadron’s Shadow Flight became 14 Squadron in 2011, after the former Tornado unit disbanded at RAF Lossiemouth under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.  The Shadow capability was moved from Urgent Operational Requirement status into the core MOD Equipment Programme through the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and the fleet expanded to six Shadow R1.  The existing Shadow fleet is being upgraded, and further expanded to eight aircraft, under the Shadow Mk2 Upgrade Programme.

Based at

Flying with


Beechcraft Shadow R.Mk 1:

  • Powerplant: Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A 1050 Shp turboprop engines
  • Length: 46ft 8in (14.26m)
  • Height: 14ft 7in (4.48m)
  • Wingspan: 57ft 11in (17.40m)
  • Wing area: 310sqft (28.80m2)
  • Maximum cruising speed: 245kt (453km/h)
  • Maximum altitude: 35,000ft