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A question asked and answered today in Parliament would seem to indicate that the Sentinel fleet will be retained until at least 2021.

Jack Lopresti, MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, asked during a defence questions session in Parliament today:

“Will my honourable friend confirm that the RAF will retain their existing surveillance capability Sentinel which proved to be so effective in Mali and the existing fleet will be maintained and continued?”

Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin answered:

“I can confirm that I had the pleasure of going to north Wales recently to extend the Sentinel contract to 2021”

Earlier reports had suggested that fleet will go from 5 to 4 as the RAF are forced to cut one of the aircraft, a unique capability in Europe, in order to save money. While the future fleet size isn’t made clear this announcement would appear to dismiss claims that a push to extend the service of the aircraft to 2021 was unsuccessful, 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.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin said:

“Sentinel aircraft provide vital intelligence to our Armed Forces, giving them the ability to make decisions that helps keep Britain safe, including on current operations against Daesh.

As part of our £178 billion equipment plan, this contract is supported by a Defence budget that will rise every year until the end of the decade, meeting the NATO commitment to spend 2% of GDP on Defence. This new support contract will sustain 160 jobs across the UK and demonstrates the very tangible benefits which Defence is bringing to the nation’s economy.”

With the ability to gather intelligence on enemy movements and track specific targets, the Sentinel remains a key element in the UK’s operations against Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s hope that the government come you their senses and retain this hugely essential asset in it’s current numbers and beyond 2021

  2. It has already proved its worth over 4 conflicts iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Mali why would we dispose of it. A
    All that will happen is a repeat of the nimrod fiasco and we will buy something very good but overpriced!

    • Will – So you want the LibDems then?
      Realistically the choice is between the harsh economic realities of a Tory Government seeking to reduce our deficits (which makes them unpopular and easy targets for the Momentum scribblers in the Guardian and BBC) or the Corbynista vision of endless Coroporation tax takes and borrowing to fund student loans and the Socialist La La Land of money for all. And Trident subs with no missiles.

      • I don’t think any of them are up to scratch Chris. It seems that finding money doesn’t seem to be a problem when you need to pay the political arm of the UDA for a majority in the House of Commons.

  3. I’m sure it will be reported in due course.

    The UK are ordering 2,700 JLTVs from the USA!

    Are all the armoured cars purchased at enormous cost being replaced already!?

    • Joe – You are confusing two different programmes. Can I quote:
      “The British purchase is part of the Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected (MRV-P) program. JTLV will meet a requirement for troop-carrying and other light duties.

      The second part of the MRV-P requirement — a larger troop carrier and a battlefield ambulance variant — is being competed by the British.”

  4. Glad these planes are being retained until 2021. What will happen after that?
    2021 will come around soon enough.
    No more defence cuts enough is enough!

  5. Seems to coincide with Poseidon coming into service? Hard to know precisely but would guess a lot of Sentinel’s capabilities will be replicated by the P8?

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