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UK MOD - RAF 5 Sqn Astor in service

UK MoD : 02 December, 2008  (New Product)
The UK MoD has today declared the technologically advanced ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Radar) in service with the RAF, on the Sentinel R1 aircraft.
The new radar system will be operated by the RAF's Number 5 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire providing a new all-weather intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability to assist commanders on the battlefield.

Operating at altitudes in excess of 40,000ft, for over 9 hours at a time, the aircraft is capable of detecting and recognising moving, static and fixed targets at stand-off range. This information is transmitted in near-real time to commanders on the ground, enabling rapid tactical planning and efficient cueing of other sensor and attack systems such as Reaper and GMLRS (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System).

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies said:

'The new ASTOR system onboard our Sentinel R1 aircraft is a unique and technologically advanced capability that will deliver exceptional battlefield surveillance. The ASTOR radar will link up with other intelligence-gathering equipment providing commanders with a complete picture of the ground allowing them to make immediate decisions on operations.

'ASTOR is already providing a number of UK companies the opportunity to participate in a high-technology programme ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of defence technology. I am delighted to welcome this vital asset into service with the RAF and Army. '

Defence Equipment and Support, ASTOR Project Team leader, Bill Chrispin said:

'Accepting ASTOR into service with the RAF represents the initial stage in the roll-out of this entirely new capability to our Armed Forces. Only through a strong working relationship between the MoD and the prime contractor, Raytheon Systems Limited, has ASTOR matured into what we see today. 5 (AC) Squadron, re-formed on 1 April 2004, has risen to the doctrinal and training challenges of this dynamic platform, and is now well set to face the future challenges.'

The ASTOR system is designed to communicate with a wide-range of other systems and networks and is therefore at the heart of the UK's Network Enabled Capability (NEC). NEC facilitates the build-up of a complete picture of the operating environment on land aiding decision making by commanders on the ground, in the air and at sea.

As part of the ongoing operational development process ASTOR will undertake an overseas deployment prior to achieving Full Operating Capability about two years from now.

The fully operational ASTOR system will comprise five modified Bombardier Global Express business jets (dubbed Sentinel R1) crewed by two aircrew, at least three radar operators, and eight ground stations.

Wing Commander Harry Kemsley, Officer Commanding RAF 5 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron said:

'ASTOR is a unique, cutting edge, ground surveillance capability for the UK Armed Forces. It will provide battlefield commanders with critical, all-weather wide area, Near-Real Time intelligence, which will enhance the effectiveness of Land operations. Training of Sqn personnel and development of the System has progressed exceedingly well over the last 18 months and the Sqn is now in a position to make a positive contribution to current operations in the very near future.'

James Klein, vice president of Raytheon's Mission Systems Integration business said:

'We are confident that ASTOR will be a critical asset, providing the actionable intelligence necessary to help protect British and coalition forces worldwide. Raytheon is excited to see ASTOR enter service as a valuable asset for the UK. This world-class capability is the product of great teamwork with the MoD, RAF 5 (AC) Squadron, and our industry partners.'
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