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1 octobre 2015 4 01 /10 /octobre /2015 16:30
Sentinel R1 surveillance aircraft - photo UK MoD

Sentinel R1 surveillance aircraft - photo UK MoD


29 September, 2015 BY: Beth Stevenson – FG


London - the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Royal Air Force’s Raytheon Sentinel R1 surveillance aircraft will continue to be operated in Iraq and Syria until 2016, despite uncertainty surrounding the fleet's lifespan.


Sentinel has been operating in support of Operation Shader – the UK’s contribution to the fight against Islamic State insurgents that began in September 2014 – but rumours had surfaced the type would be withdrawn from operations in the near future. However, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on 26 September that Sentinel would remain in its surveillance role in support of the mission until 2016, in turn confirming the UK will continue to operate Operation Shader until at least that date.


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10 juillet 2013 3 10 /07 /juillet /2013 12:45
Five Sentinel R1 aircraft are operated by Waddington-based 5 Sqn – photo Craig Hoyle FG

Five Sentinel R1 aircraft are operated by Waddington-based 5 Sqn – photo Craig Hoyle FG

July 10, 2013 by Craig Hoyle – FG


London - The UK Royal Air Force has detailed the contribution made by its Sentinel R1 ground surveillance aircraft during France's Operation Serval activity in Mali earlier this year, as prime contractor Raytheon has achieved a notable training milestone in support of its 5(AC) Sqn.


During a four-month detachment to Dakar in Senegal launched in late January, Sentinel aircraft flew 66 sorties, totalling a combined 697h, says British Army Maj Seymour Bailey, operations officer for the RAF united based at Waddington, Lincolnshire. Services provided by its roughly 40 deployed personnel included delivering 100 detailed intelligence reports to French commanders, he says.


Typically prepared by ground-based image analysts using a deployed tactical ground station within 6-8h of an aircraft landing, individual reports included providing annotated synthetic aperture radar imagery of points of interest to support activities by the French armed forces against Islamist militants. This included surveying a dirt landing strip in Tessalit, to assess whether tactical transport aircraft would be able to land safely. Other points of interest included the strategic town of Gao and the Mali/Niger border, where rebel activity was supported by crossing points and resupply boats.


As during the Sentinel's previous use under combat conditions in Afghanistan and Libya, the aircraft's Raytheon dual-mode radar was also used in its ground moving target indication mode to track vehicle movements and build so-called "pattern of life" data. Operators on board the aircraft also were in real-time voice contact with French troops during some missions.


"We were the 'find' phase of the operation," says Bailey. "Persistence over the target is critical. We could look long and far, and cross-cue other assets into suspicious activity for positive identification."


Meanwhile, Raytheon's head of training for the airborne standoff radar system programme, Martin Johnston, says the company has recently trained its 1,000th student for the UK. The company provides five full-time instructors at 5 Sqn's RAF Waddington home, with RAF pilots also receiving simulator-based training with CAE in Burgess Hill, West Sussex.


Adapted from Bombardier's Global Express business jet, the Sentinel has a flight endurance of up to 11h. Flown with two pilots, with additional crew members comprising an airborne mission commander and two airborne image analysts, the system has been in operational use since late 2008, with five aircraft delivered.


Previously slated for early retirement following the completion of UK combat involvement in Afghanistan, the Sentinel's ability to respond to contingencies in Libya and Mali - where an aircraft was in theatre within 48h of an order to move - has led chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton to suggest that the fleet could be retained through the next Strategic Defence and Security Review, planned to conclude during 2015. One possible role would be in providing a manned adjunct to NATO's future Alliance Ground Surveillance fleet of five Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned air vehicles, he says.

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11 juin 2013 2 11 /06 /juin /2013 16:50
RAF chief hints at Sentinel AGS role post-Afghanistan

Jun. 11, 2013 by Craig Hoyle – FG


London - The UK could use its Raytheon Systems Sentinel R1 battlefield reconnaissance aircraft as a national adjunct to NATO's alliance ground surveillance (AGS) fleet of unmanned air vehicles, says Royal Air Force chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton.

RAF chief hints at Sentinel AGS role post-Afghanistan

Using NATO's Boeing E-3-equipped airborne early warning and control system force and the RAF's contribution of E-3D Sentry aircraft as an example of such an arrangement, Dalton says: "Sentinel could form part of NATO AGS, along with [Northrop Grumman] Global Hawk UAVs."

RAF chief hints at Sentinel AGS role post-Afghanistan

The UK coalition government's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of September 2010 proposed retiring the RAF's relatively new fleet of five Bombardier Global Express-derived Sentinels, once the type was no longer needed to support NATO-led activities in Afghanistan. However, the Ministry of Defence in May 2012 indicated its intention to provide a "contribution in kind" to the multinational AGS programme, with the manned surveillance aircraft being its most applicable solution.


Speaking at a Royal Aeronautical Society lecture in London on 10 June, Dalton said the at-risk Sentinel system has proven its ability to deliver "timely, and fully releasable intelligence products" through operations performed over Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.

The RAF deployed one of its Sentinels and supporting personnel to Dhakar in Senegal between January 2013 and late May, following a request from the French government for product from its dual synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication sensor during its Serval operation.


"Sentinel enabled France to understand the behaviour of the militants, and supported the movement of its troops on the ground," he says. Offering such a system to support future multinational operations via the AGS programme framework would benefit the UK, he believes, as it could be "flexed from NATO to national operations, as required".


A formal decision on whether to retain the Sentinel capability will be made as part of the UK's next SDSR process, which is due to report its findings in 2015.


Approved late last year, the AGS programme's scope was reduced over several years, due to cost constraints, eventually settling on a deal for five radar-equipped Block 40 Global Hawks, to achieve initial operating capability during 2016.


Meanwhile, Dalton says the UK needs to invest in technologies to enable its future remotely piloted air systems to be capable of operating in contested airspace. He also notes that such equipment - as with the RAF's General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Reapers now used in Afghanistan - will be operated following "the same legal and ethical framework" as its manned combat aircraft.

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