An afternoon spent at RAF Waddington produced a mix of both civilian and military aircraft. I’ll start with the locally based RAF Sentinel R1.
The RAF Sentinel R1 ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Radar) is the newest addition to the RAF fleet. The Sentinel uses the Bombardier Global Express as an air platform modified by Raytheon Systems Limited with a ASARS-2 derivative of the airborne radar system used in the U-2 spy plane. The ASARS-2 is made up of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Moving Target Indicator (MTI) sensor that allows it to produce high resolution images from 100 miles away whilst at 47,000 feet whilst also keeping track of moving targets.
The Sentinel is operated by Number 5(AC) Squadron. The AC in the title stands for Army Co-Operation meaning that the squadron is staffed by both RAF and Army personnel.
The Sentinel didn’t win the most unusual looking aircraft of the day. This went to the German registered Piaggio P-180 (D-IIVA) with it’s ‘wrong way around’ engines and it’s fixed canards.
A French Air Force Xingu (066/ZA) passed through….
The King Airs from nearby RAF Cranwell were practicing approaches, unfortunately for the student pilots there was a strong cross wind which made for some difficult landing conditions. I’m glad I wasn’t in the back!
Another notable aircraft was this RAF Islander CC2B (ZH537) of the RAF Northolt Station Flight. Described by the RAF as being used for “photographic mapping and light communications roles” but it’s a well known secret as to what they really do.
I was lucky to catch it as the approach was made with any communication (or was encrypted) parallel to the runway before performing a tight 180 degree turn and straight down onto the runway. Not your usual final approach!
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