UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin has announced a £131.5m support contract for RAF’s Sentinel surveillance aircraft. The deal with Raytheon UK will provide the Sentinel aircraft with in-service support and maintenance, meaning it can continue to meet the RAF’s operational requirements.
With the ability to gather intelligence on enemy movements and track specific targets, the Sentinel – which is based on the Bombardier Global Express bizjet – remains a key element in the UK’s operations against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The MoD announcement did not mention the number of aircraft involved. The RAF has been pushing hard to reverse plans to reduce the current fleet from five aircraft to four. Though last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) pushed back the planned retirement of the Sentinel from 2018 into the next decade, the SDSR also called for one of the five aircraft to be retired in September 2016.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin said: “Sentinel aircraft provide vital intelligence to our Armed Forces, giving them the ability to make decisions that helps keep Britain safe, including on current operations against Daesh.”
The Sentinel Airborne Standoff Radar (ASTOR) fleet provides an airborne mission management system that gives troops persistent, wide-area, all-weather surveillance. The aircraft have served on numerous operations, including Afghanistan and as part NATO operations in Libya in 2011.