The new Sentinel R Mk1 aircraft has taken another major step forward in its
testing program. The first Sentinel aircraft to be completed in the UK recently
left Raytheon's Broughton facility in North Wales for Greenville, Texas, where
it will join the U.S.-built aircraft to undertake formal flight testing.
The British aircraft will return in late spring to undertake further flight
trials in the UK. The Sentinel R Mk1, based on a Bombardier Global Express
business jet, will form part of the MOD's Airborne Stand Off Radar (ASTOR)
Based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, the aircraft will be operated by 5
Squadron, which has been re-formed for the purpose. The ASTOR Squadron will be
able to operate at long distances, giving battlefield commanders accurate and
up-to-date information about forces, infrastructure and vehicle movements.
The squadron was re-formed at Waddington on April 1, 2004, the fifth time it had
been re-formed in its history. It is commanded by Wg Cdr Bill Hughes. During
World War One, the squadron acted as a reconnaissance and air intelligence unit,
a role to which it is now returning. Waddington is already home to the RAF's
E-3D fleet (8 and 23 Squadrons) and the Nimrod R1 (51 Squadron).
The first ASTOR aircraft was modified and integrated in the USA while the
remaining four Sentinels are being modified by Raytheon Systems Limited, the
prime contractor, in the UK.
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