RAF Sentinel R1: Everything You Need To Know About The Aircraft

The Royal Air Force's Sentinel R1 aircraft has officially been retired after 14 years of service

Its last operational sortie was flown in February.

The surveillance role provided by the Sentinel will now be carried out by other aircraft, including the newly-introduced Poseidon and forthcoming Protector.

But, what did the Sentinel's service life look like?

The aircraft was first commissioned through engineering firm Raytheon in 2008.

It came in response to an Urgent Operational Requirement during Operation Herrick, the codename for British Operations in the war in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2014.

The request was for an Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) and five aircraft were acquired, with V (Army Cooperation) Squadron being re-formed to operate the aircraft.

However, V(AC) Squadron has now been disbanded following the retirement of the Sentinel. 

RAF Sentinel taking off, with the aircraft set to retire following its last operation
The aircraft was first commissioned during Operation Herrick, the codename for British operations in the war in Afghanistan from 2002 (Picture: RAF).

The squadron was based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, the main operating base in the UK for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance assets and the Sentinel was used on numerous operations around the world.

This includes Op Shader, the UK's contribution to the US-led mission against so-called Islamic State, and Op Telic, the name for British operations in Iraq during the Second Gulf War.

Additionally, the squadron has worked on Op Turus in Nigeria, Op Ellamy in Libya, Op Newcombe in Mali and Op Kipion in the Middle East.

Closer to home, the squadron also provided support to the civil authorities in 2014 during the UK's flood emergency in southern England.

During its RAF career, Sentinel has flown for about 32,300 hours and conducted roughly 4,870 sorties – most of which have been on operations.

The aircraft's longest flight, of 12 hours and 30 minutes, was achieved on 30 March 2011 during Operation Ellamy in Libya.