Royal Air Force Sentinel aircraft returns from Middle East mission

A Royal Air Force (RAF) Sentinel R1 airborne battlefield and ground surveillance aircraft has returned to its base at RAF Waddington after successful mission in the Middle East, the RAF said in a statement.

The aircraft ,assigned to the No. 5 (Army Co-operation)/ V(AC)  Squadron was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition military intervention against Daesh (also called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/ ISIS).

The aircraft  landed today after eight weeks away where the crew have been supporting coalition operations by supplying information that ensures the strikes carried out by the RAF and other coalition aircraft are accurate.

During this tour the Iraqi Security forces, together with their coalition allies in the air and on the ground, have successfully recaptured the Iraqi city of Mosul with the 5 Squadron Sentinel playing an important part in the gathering of information to support the ground campaign.

The Sentinel crew used the aircraft’s powerful radar to identify and track numerous targets over great distances, passing the information in near real time to friendly forces. The information gathered was also used by intelligence specialists to conduct in-depth forensic analysis of the data to generate intelligence products that are passed to commanders and decision makers enabling them to plan future operations.

This Sentinel aircraft has been deployed in support of operations for two months and during that time was airborne for 235 hours, or the equivalent of nearly 10 days, with the typical sortie lasting for ten hours. During this time the aircraft flew approximately 4200 miles.

About Sentinel R1:

Raytheon Sentinel is an airborne battlefield and ground surveillance aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force. Based on the Bombardier Global Express ultra long range business jet, it was adapted by Raytheon to meet the RAF’s requirements.

Originally known as the ASTOR (Airborne STand-Off Radar) programme the aircraft is operated by a RAF squadron manned by both RAF and Royal Army personnel. The Sentinel is interoperable with other allied systems such as United States Air Force (USAF) Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and the NATO Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system.

In 2010 the UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review announced its intention to “withdraw the Sentinel airborne ground surveillance aircraft once it is no longer required to support operations in Afghanistan.”

The decision was reversed in 2014 by Prime Minister David Cameron and in the 2015 SDSR, the British government announced that the type’s retirement would be delayed and that it would remain in service “into the next decade”.

Sentinel has supported the British Army in Afghanistan. One Sentinel aircraft was deployed to assist French forces in Mali on 25 January 2013.

Source: RAF/ UK MoD

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