Iconic RAF aircraft receives Royal Parade marking retirement service after 30 years

Prince Edward inspecting 8 Sqaudron personnel during the disbandment parade. Photographer: Sgt Nik Howe RAF - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

A Royal Parade, attended by HRH the Earl of Wessex, was held yesterday (Tuesday) at RAF Waddington to mark the retirement of the E-3D Sentry from RAF service.

HRH the Earl of Wessex, an Honorary Air Commodore, reviewed the parade and was accompanied by Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group, Air Vice Marshal Allan Marshall and the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force Commander, Major General Thomas Kunkel from the United States Air Force.

The Officer Commanding 8 Squadron, Wing Commander Victoria Williams was the parade commander for the event which saw flypasts conducted by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and an 8 Squadron E-3D Sentry.

Commenting on the parade Officer Commanding 8 Squadron, Wg Cdr Williams said:

“The parade today has provided a fitting send-off for an iconic aircraft, the day is clearly an emotional one but we are all incredibly proud of what has been achieved over the last 30 years. The commitment and output provided to UK Defence and NATO has been exceptional and I know that 8 Squadron will be looking forward to transitioning to the E-7 Wedgetail in due course.”

The event also marked 30 years of RAF service for an aircraft which has seen extensive use during operations and with NATO. These operations range from counter narcotic drug operations in the Caribbean through to Operation Iraqi Freedom which saw the RAF Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) force clock up more flying hours in Iraqi airspace than all other RAF aircraft combined.  More recently the aircraft was employed on Operation Shader in the fight against Daesh and on Operation Fortis which saw them directly supporting the UK Carrier Strike Group.

The retirement of the Sentry will see 8 Squadron relocated to RAF Lossiemouth where they will operate the E-7 Wedgetail which offers a significant stride forward in capability. For RAF Waddington this is another important step as the next generation Royal Air Force takes shape at the Station.

Group Captain Stephen Kilvington, the Station Commander at RAF Waddington said:

“As a previous Commander of 8 Squadron I am extremely proud of what the E-3D Sentry has delivered across its 30 years of service. It has been an outstanding capability operated by outstanding people. The reputation of the Force in the RAF and with our Allies is second to none and so it is only natural that its retirement is tinged with sadness.

“The future for our intelligence assets is an exciting one. 8 Squadron will introduce Wedgetail into service at RAF Lossiemouth whilst RAF Waddington will benefit from £94M of investment to support the arrival of Protector and our wider capabilities, ensuring our people continue to deliver exceptional operational output for many years to come.”

Photo credits: Sgt Nik Howe RAF

UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021


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