Sentinel spy plane makes final flight from RAF Waddington

media captionRaytheon Sentinel spy plane lands at RAF Waddington for the final time.

An RAF spy plane which provided vital battlefield intelligence to British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has made its final flight.

The Sentinel R1 had operated around the world from its home base at RAF Waddington, near Lincoln, for the past 14 years.

Newer models will now carry out the plane's duties.

Christine Robinson, whose cafe sits at the end of the Waddington runway, said she was "sad to see it go".

"It's been a fantastic sight over Waddington," she said.

"It's had a long service history doing an incredible job while it's out all over the world. It was just unbelievable to to see its last flight."

image copyrightRAF / MoD
image captionThe Sentinel R1 was was greeted by an arch of water from the RAF station's fire engines after it landed for the last time

Flying at 40,000ft (12,200m), it used powerful radar to scan the ground and spot enemy movements to support British and Nato troops in operations across the Middle East and Africa.

Closer to home, the aircraft of V (Army Cooperation) Squadron helped to monitor flooding in southern England in 2014.

It was greeted by an arch of water from Waddington's fire engines after its final landing.

The squadron's commanding officer Wing Cdr Dominic "Dutch" Holland said it had been an "absolute privilege" to be in charge.

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

image copyrightRAF / MoD
image captionThe aircraft uses powerful radar to search for enemy forces on the ground

The RAF said the surveillance role of the Sentinel would now be carried out by other aircraft, including the newly-introduced Poseidon and forthcoming Protector among others.

John Sneller, from Janes defence magazine, said the Sentinel was a "very powerful aircraft, but the technology was becoming obsolete".

He added: "There is a possibility that it could be resold rather than simply scrapped."

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