The UK’s Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) programme passed a significant milestone in late July, when the first of four UK-modified Raytheon Sentinel R1s made its debut flight from the company’s Broughton site in Wales. Conducted on 25 July, the 4h check flight included operations up to 17,000ft (5,180m) and reached an indicated airspeed of 320kt (590km/h).

Raytheon Big

The debut marked the start of a three-week test campaign involving the aircraft.

Raytheon will deliver five modified Bombardier Global Express business jets under a deal worth around £970 million ($1.7 billion), and expects to begin flight tests with the aircraft’s synthetic-aperture radar/ground moving-target indication sensor next month from Greenville, Texas. Raytheon Systems (RSL) of the UK is responsible for modifying the remaining four green airframes at Broughton, and expects to begin work on the programme’s final platform later this year.

To be assigned to 5(AC) Sqn at Royal Air Force base Waddington in eastern England, the Sentinel R1s will provide battlefield imagery to the UK armed forces and operate as part of an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance fleet that will also include BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4s and Thales UK/Elbit Systems Watchkeeper WK450 unmanned air vehicles.

RSL confirms that developmental delays will cause the ASTOR system to miss its planned in-service date of September 2005, but expects the Sentinel fleet to deliver full operational capability from 2007 (Flight International, 1-7 March).


Source: Flight International