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BBC Journo gets exclusive access to RAF's Sentinel R1 spy plane which is assisting NATO forces.

By Caroline Wyatt Defence correspondent, BBC News

RAF is flying reconnaissance missions over Libya with its Sentinel R1 spy plane, a modified business jet which uses radar to create accurate real-time images of what is happening on the ground.


  • Crew: Five
  • Max speed: Mach 0.89
  • Systems: High-resolution radar system Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and target identifier Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI).

Opposition forces are still locked in battle with those loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi.

But without troops on the ground, how is Nato able to choose its targets, and make sure United Nations resolution 1973 is kept? Intelligence-gathering is key here.

The sun is setting over the Mediterranean as the ground crew at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus make the final checks on the plane.

They were scrambled here from 5 Squadron based at RAF Waddington when the Libya no-fly zone was put into place.

Their task: to ensure that one of the UK's only remaining types of spy plane - the Sentinel R1 - could be sent into action.

Bulking out its slim frame is its sophisticated radar equipment which can scan thousands of square kilometres in minutes.

The bulky portion underneath the airframe is known as the "canoe" for its shape.

Continue @ [BBC]

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