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  • PICTURE: UK squadron prepares for Nimrod R1 retirement

PICTURE: UK squadron prepares for Nimrod R1 retirement

With its two remaining British Aeropsace Nimrod R1 electronic intelligence aircraft within six weeks of being retired, the Royal Air Force’s 51 Sqn has given aircraft XV249 special markings to commemorate more than three decades of service. The artwork depicts a goose, as used on the 51 Sqn crest.

The unit has operated Nimrod R1s since 1974, and flown the type from its current home at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire since 1995. It currently has its other remaining example deployed in the Middle East to support the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan.

© SAC Ben Stevenson/Crown Copyright

In a recent operational update, the RAF described the nature of the work being undertaken by the aircraft.

“The information gathered by the Nimrod R1 continues to be invaluable in highlighting insurgent activity across Afghanistan, enabling ISAF and ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] ground troops to plan and complete operations with advance knowledge of any potential insurgent presence,” it says.

Meanwhile, the RAF’s first of three RC-135 “Air Seekers” is now in work at L-3 Communications’ Greenville site in Texas. The aircraft is being converted to the US Air Force’s Rivet Joint configuration from a KC-135 tanker.

© UK Defence Equipment & Support

“It has already had equipment and engines removed,” says the UK’s Defence Equipment & Support organisation, which expects the RAF’s first example to be delivered in late 2013.

With the RAF having last year retired its last Nimrod MR2s and seen its replacement MRA4 fleet axed as part of the UK government's Strategic Defence and Security Review, the R1s are the last Nimrods to fly.

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