RAF Sentinel R1 aircraft conducts last operational flight

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The crew and aircraft are seen here at RAF Waddington on the 25/02/2021, before leaving on the last sortie.

The Royal Air Force Sentinel R1 aircraft has carried out the last operational flight of the aircraft type, from RAF Waddington after 14 years of service.

The Sentinel R1 aircraft of V (Army Cooperation) Squadron have flown circa 32,300 hours conducting approximately 4,870 sorties during its service life. The withdrawal from service was first announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The surveillance role of the Sentinel will now be carried out by other aircraft in RAF service including the newly introduced Poseidon and Protector amongst others.

Commenting on the Sentinel and its role within V (AC) Squadron, the Commanding Officer,

Wing Commander Dominic “Dutch’ Holland said:

“It has been an absolute privilege to have commanded V (AC) Squadron. It is a fantastic Squadron, with wonderful people, that has delivered exceptional results on multiple operations across the globe. Pivotal to that success has been the fantastic effort and support from across the whole of the Sentinel enterprise.”

The Sentinel aircraft was commissioned through engineering firm Raytheon to provide an Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) system and first saw service during Operation HERRICK in 2008.  Five aircraft were acquired and V(AC) Sqn was reformed to operate the aircraft.

The squadron has been committed since then to numerous operations around the world, notably Op Shader  and Op Telic, whilst closer to home they provided support to the Civil Authorities during the UK’s flood emergency in southern England in 2014. Raytheon have worked closely with the RAF in maintaining this capability and were a very welcome part of the whole force at RAF Waddington.

On the squadron’s recent return from Op Shader, the UK Commander of Joint Operations,

Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key said:

“Right to the end of its commission, V(AC) Squadron has been a constant among my deployed Force Elements. It is a record to be proud of.”

The Sentinel has been involved in multiple operations including:

  • – Op HERRICK – Afghanistan
  • – Op TELIC – Iraq.
  • – Op SHADER – Iraq/Syria.
  • – Op TURUS – West Africa.
  • – Op ELLAMY – Libya.
  • – Op NEWCOMBE – North Africa.
  • – Op PITCHPOLE – UK Floods.
  • – Op KIPION – Middle East.

Sentinel’s longest flight of 12 hours and 30 minutes was achieved on 30 March 2011 during Operation ELLAMY (Libya). Sentinel has flown circa 32,300 hours over approximately 4,870 sorties – most of which have been flown on operations.

All Sentinel deployments have been operationally successful due to the professionalism and dedication of the Whole Force, including the Raytheon Field Service Reps.

An RAF Sentinel R1 from V(AC) Squadron based at RAF Waddington has conducted the final Operational Flight for the aircraft in RAF service. Image shows the Sentinel R1 landing back at RAF Waddington after its final Operational Flight.
RAF Waddington Air show, Press Day 2006. A Sentinel Airborne Stand Off Radar (ASTOR) Aircraft from No. 5 (AC) Squadron, RAF Waddington. Pictured here preparing to land, to be displayed as part of the static aircraft park at Waddington Air show 2006.

Photo credits: SAC James Skerrett RAF© UK MOD Crown Copyright 2021

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