RAF Sentinel R1 Completes Last Operational Flight

The Royal Air Force Sentinel R1 has carried out its last operational flight.

The aircraft was commissioned in response to an Urgent Operational Requirement for an Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) during Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan in 2008.

Five Sentinels were acquired and V (Army Cooperation) Squadron was reformed to operate the aircraft.

During their 14-year service life, the aircraft have flown for roughly 32,300 hours, conducting about 4,870 sorties.

Wing Commander Dominic Holland, Commanding Officer, V (AC) Squadron, said it had been "an absolute privilege to have commanded V (AC) Squadron".

"It is a fantastic squadron, with wonderful people, that has delivered exceptional results on multiple operations across the globe," he said.

"Pivotal to that success has been the fantastic effort and support from across the whole of the Sentinel enterprise."

RAF Sentinel on the runway, with the aircraft set to retire following its last operation
The Sentinel aircraft has carried out operations around the world, including Operation Shader (Picture: RAF).

The squadron has carried out operations around the world, including Operation Shader, the UK's contribution to the US-led mission against so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

On the squadron's recent return from Op Shader, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, the UK Commander of Joint Operations, said: "Right to the end of its commission, V(AC) Squadron has been a constant among my deployed Force Elements. 

"It is a record to be proud of."

In the UK, V(AC) Sqn provided support to the Civil Authorities during the UK's flood emergency in 2014.

The aircraft's withdrawal from service was first announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Other aircraft in RAF service, including the newly-introduced Poseidon and forthcoming Protector, will carry out the surveillance role previously occupied by the Sentinel.