Reports had suggested that fleet will go from 5 aircraft to 4 as the RAF are forced to cut one of the aircraft, this has now been confirmed.
The fate of this aircraft type has, once again, changed.
Sentinel is a unique capability in Europe but one of the aircraft is being cut in order to save money. Earlier concerns centred around plans that the fleet would leave service entirely next year but a push to extend the service of the aircraft to 2021 seems to have been successful, we reported on this at the time here.
The Sentinel is an airborne battlefield and ground surveillance aircraft based on the Bombardier Global Express ultra long range business jet and serves a role similar to JSTARS with the RAF, the jet was adapted by Raytheon to meet the RAF’s requirements.
Sentinel was originally known as the ASTOR (Airborne STand-Off Radar) programme. In 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the retention of the aircraft in the face of their expected retirement due to budget cuts.
Last October, Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin announced a £131.5 million support contract for RAF’s Sentinel surveillance aircraft. The deal with Raytheon UK will provide the Sentinel aircraft with in-service support and maintenance, meaning it can continue to meet the RAF’s operational requirements.