In order to maintain the Sentinel R Mk1 aircraft in its fleet, the Ministry of Defense (UK) together with the Raytheon Group (UK) have signed a contract for IRP (Improved Radar Programme). The IRP is an upgrade which helps to merge the receiver and the processor while providing saving on size, weight as well as power.
In 2016, Raytheon has also signed a separate Integrated Support Services (ISS) contract with a net value of USD 170 million under which the company will be providing engineering, maintenance, and training for the Sentinel fleet including C-checks which is done to the airframe every 10 years. Raytheon Airborne Solutions shall be providing all the services to the Sentinel Fleet at their hangars at Broughton airfield in North Wales
About the Aircraft: Sentinel R Mk 1
The Sentinel R Mk 1 is based on a Global Business Jet and is manufactured by Bombardier and modified by Raytheon UK. The Sentinel R1 aircraft was intended for conventional war-fighting operations as well as to track armored formations and to carry out strategic reconnaissance tasks. By making use of the aircraft’s powerful radar the mission crew can identify as well as track numerous targets over greater distances, passing the information in near real time to friendly forces. The mission crew is backed up by a team of intelligence specialists who conduct an in-depth forensic analysis of data collected by the aircraft and further generate intelligence that is passed to commanders and the decision makers and thus enabling them to plan for future operations. The Sentinel R MK 1 aircraft, which entered service in December 2008, is the most advanced long-range, airborne-surveillance system of its kind worldwide. Additionally, the aircraft has been deployed operationally in Afghanistan since 2009 and has provided vital intelligence during the NATO operations in Libya in 2011, and French operations in Mali, in 2013.
Sentinel R Mk1: Operations and Features
The aircraft, Sentinel R Mk 1 is a vital C4ISR asset for UK’s military and is being operated by the Royal Air Force’s No5 Army Cooperation Squadron. The Sentinel R Mk 1 comes equipped with Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) system and ground components with the aircraft’s powerful Active Electronically- Scanned Array (AESA) “dual mode” surveillance radar which helps in combining the best in Ground Movement Target Indicator (GMTI) as well as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery for providing unparalleled situational awareness. The image captured by the aircraft is sent to the ground stations at all levels of command and control through secure networks. The aircraft is able to remain over safe territory while providing an outstanding “look-down” angle of the target area owing to its high altitude operational capabilities.
Sentinel: “Operation Shader”
Since March 2015, more Sentinels have been deployed to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, for “Operation Shader”, the British contribution to the U.S.-led coalition of nations aiming to evict the so-called Islamic State from Iraq and Syria. The aircraft has been flying eight- to 10-hour missions, with its three onboard radar operators using satellite communications (Satcom) for relaying urgent intelligence on the ground situation in UK and coalition commanders. Furthermore, Raytheon is marketing a different version of the Sentinel aircraft to other countries. The aircraft named the Multi Mission Aircraft (MMA) houses additional sensors and communications options. These include a long-range electro-optical camera, an EO/IR tactical surveillance video turret and upgraded Satcom.