The UK’s new Sentinel R1 airborne stand-off radar aircraft was a first-time visitor to the Royal International Air Tattoo this weekend, with the modified Bombardier Global Express business jet taking time out from its busy training schedule to join in the event’s static line.

Accepted into service with the Royal Air Force’s 5(AC) Sqn at the Royal Air Force’s Waddington airbase in Lincolnshire last month, the visiting aircraft – ZJ690 – is the first of an eventual fleet of five aircraft which are to provide frontline battlefield surveillance services to the UK armed forces in operational theatres such as Afghanistan from late next year.


5 Sqn senior pilot Sqn Ldr Tony Flynn says the first ASTOR aircraft, which was delivered to the RAF in March with an interim software configuration, is currently flying around 80h per month in support of crew training and test activities.

A further two aircraft are being used to support system development work in the USA, while the programme’s last two examples are at Raytheon Systems’ Broughton site in north Wales undergoing modification. Deliveries of the entire fleet should be complete by late this year or early 2008, the company says.

Flynn says current challenges facing the programme include the introduction of a new software load and the agreement of terms for the type’s formal release to service.

Source: Flight International