Sentinel R1 withdrawal sees RAF bid farewell to V (AC) Squadron

Posted on 1 April, 2021 by Advance 

The Royal Air Force (RAF) have today officially disbanded V (Army Cooperation) Squadron, following the withdrawal of the Sentinel R1 aircraft from RAF service.

Image courtesy Raytheon UK

The occasion was marked with a ceremonial parade at RAF Waddington with the Squadron Standard being lodged at RAF Cranwell.

The disbandment of V (AC) Squadron follows the withdrawal of the Sentinel R1 aircraft from RAF service. The squadron has been operating the Sentinel R1 as part of the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force based at RAF Waddington.

The Squadron was first formed in 1913 and has a rich history that includes service during both World Wars, and the Gulf War.  The squadron has operated aircraft such as the Avro 504, Lightning F6 and Tornado F3 and has been awarded many Battle Honours from all over the World.

In recent years since the Squadron began operating the Sentinel R1, the Squadron has been committed to multiple operations including Op Shader in the Middle East and Op Ellamy in Libya.  Squadron aircraft have also been used to directly assist Civilian Authorities in the UK delivering information to decision makers across government.

The Disbandment Parade was limited due to COVID-19 regulations however, Air Marshal Gerry Mayhew the RAF’s Deputy Commander Operations, Air Vice Marshal Allan Marshall, the Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group and members of Raytheon UK senior leadership were able to attend.  Upon conclusion of the parade the Squadron Standard underwent the ceremonial process of being lodged at RAF Cranwell amongst similarly illustrious Standards.

The Squadron has called RAF Waddington home for a great number of years, something the Station Commander, Group Captain Steve Kilvington reflected on when he said: “The Sentinel R1 of V(AC) Squadron has been a familiar sight here at RAF Waddington for the past 14 years, during which time it has delivered exceptional support to numerous operations across the globe.

“Whether tackling insurgency in the Middle East or supporting NATO on Europe’s flanks, the Squadron’s output has truly epitomised the Whole Force concept. Whether military, civilian or contractor, everyone has performed time and again to assure delivery of vital Defence outputs.”

The Sentinel R1 was manufactured by Raytheon UK. Mr James Gray, the Managing Director of Raytheon Cyber, Space and Training said: "We are honoured to have worked side by side with V (AC) Squadron at RAF Waddington on the Sentinel R1 fleet. Raytheon UK continues to develop and invest in new multi-mission ISR solutions for both non-traditional and traditional ISR platforms and we look forward to partnering with the RAF for many years to come."

As the Squadron disbands, the military personnel will be posted to new roles throughout the RAF, however the memories and achievements of the Squadron will live on. At the conclusion of the parade Group Captain Kilvington said: “It has been my privilege to work with the men and women of V(AC) Squadron and whilst the current situation means that we are not able to give them quite the send-off we would wish, everyone should feel immensely proud of what they have all achieved.”