A Sentry R1 surveillance aircraft has completed the types final operational sortie before the fleet is sold off.
RAF Waddington posted news that an aircraft had returned from the types final operational sortie.
The aircraft, ZJ694, was over the Baltic Sea near Russia earlier today.
What does Sentinel do?
The aircraft, described on the Royal Air Force website as “the most advanced long-range, airborne-surveillance system of its kind in the world”, provides long-range, wide-area battlefield surveillance, delivering intelligence and target tracking information to British forces.
The aircraft has been operationally deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali, and was recently deployed in support of British and Coalition operations in Iraq and Syria as well as surveillance operations near the Russian border.
Why is it being sold off?
The aircraft is being sold off, it is claimed, due to obsolescence.
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, last year stated that Sentinel was introduced in 2008 in the knowledge that a significant equipment upgrade would be required in the mid 2010s.
“The Sentinel R1 has been operationally deployed in support of a number of operations. Some operations are considered to be both conventional and counter-insurgency; for example operations in Afghanistan (Op HERRICK) and Iraq (Op SHADER). It has also been deployed on operations in Libya (Op ELLAMY), Nigeria (Op TURUS) and Mali (Op NEWCOMBE), all considered conventional operations.
Sentinel was introduced in 2008 in the knowledge that a significant equipment upgrade would be required in the mid 2010’s. The Defence Review in 2010 cancelled this expected upgrade bringing forward the likely out of service date. The SDSR 2015 determined that Sentinel should be retained for a further period and set a new out of service date of March 2021. While some work was conducted on the on-board equipment this fell well short of a full system upgrade.
I asked a defence insider about the value in scrapping Sentinel, he told me:
“The decision was taken 10 years ago to switch it off so no support [for the fleet] has been in place since then, and the fleet has been run on a shoestring. As such, you’ve got a fleet of jets that are totally unfit for conversion, without a key role and where other ways of doing it exist.”
We recently reported that Sentinel was to be sold off. The Ministry of Defence advise however that the aircraft being sold off are “not for reuse”. You can read more on that by going to the article below.
The Ministry of Defence advise that the aircraft being sold off are “not for reuse”.