4° post “£1bn ‘spy jets’ join RAF squadron “

“Spy planes” that could help combat roadside bombs from seven-and-a-half miles above the ground have just entered squadron service after successful trials in Afghanistan. How effective would they be in fighting the Taleban and saving lives?

At almost £1bn for five, the Sentinel R1 jet does not come cheap, but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) hopes its latest “eye in the sky” will have a real impact.

The twin-engined plane carries some of the world’s most sophisticated radar equipment, allowing it to detect and track enemy movement over huge areas.

‘Vital platform’

The Army hopes the Royal Air Force jets will provide a clearer picture of insurgents’ positions as well as pinpoint static and fixed targets.

The number of UK troops killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 stands at 143.

The Airborne Stand-Off Radar (Astor) can cover thousands of square miles, looking deep into valleys, picking out well-used enemy routes and mapping vehicle activity.

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