Britain’s Sentinel Recon Aircraft Gets an Upgrade Raytheon
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by Chris Pocock
Raytheon UK and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) may have taken another step toward retaining in service the Sentinel R.1 aircraft equipped with a dual-mode reconnaissance radar. They are believed to have just signed a contract for the Integrated Radar Programme (IRP), a redesign that merges the receiver/exciter and the processor. The IRP offers a big saving in size, weight and power.
Raytheon proposed the IRP to the MOD as the first phase of a Sentinel Sustainment Plan (SSP) that is aimed primarily at mitigating the problem of diminishing vendors. The Sentinel's radar was designed in 2000-01 and entered service with the aircraft in 2007. It remains almost unique in providing equally high performance in both synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and moving target indicator (MTI) modes.
The MOD has already granted two reprieves, and its official position is that the five-aircraft fleet should be withdrawn in 2021 as a cost-saving. But Raytheon believes that the aircraft—a conversion of the Bombardier Global Express business jet—could cost-effectively serve the UK for many more years, and has proposed further upgrades.