Friday 26 February 2021

Scrapping Sentinel: Massive Government Mistake

My special subject being aired now.  For the past 12+ years, the RAF has operated the Sentinel R1, a very capable and sophisticated piece of surveillance kit that all you one-time aircraft spotters will know about, and the rest can read more here

The Sentinel has been of extraordinary value to HMG, in ways that will not find detailed expression in the public domain but you can readily imagine.  (Start by searching on Operation Shader to get the general idea.)  Osborne, that f*****g 'genius' whose entry in the history books will be 100% damning, decided to scrap them for cost-cutting reasons but Cameron was persuaded (well, begged by our allies) not to follow through, so they were given a 5-year life extension.

But now their last mission has been flown, and there's no 1-1 replacement in sight.

I despair. 



lilith said...

C'mon Nick! There will be no more wars now that we have trans rights and critical race theory!

Timbo614 said...

It's OK we can just use drones that cost £49.99 (including delivery) from China. What could go wrong?

Anonymous said...

Make love not war

Anonymous said...

How much of Shader information was used to "fight ISIS" and how much was used to "fight Assad"?

Given that many of the headchoppers were armed, trained and funded by the UK, Cameron's legendary "moderate rebels".

E-K said...

I don't trust any of our politicians with this stuff. Maybe it's for the best.

Anonymous said...

OT but if this comes true Scottish skiing is due for a revival - as is Malvern skiing, Chiltern skiing and South Downs skiing.

If we lose the Gulf Stream, London is at the same latitude as Winnipeg, not known for its mild winters.

James Higham said...

One wonders about what passes as forward planning.

PushingTheBoundaries said...

Savour a last glimpse Nick

Anonymous said...

This is also sad, a Victor being dismantled.

Anyone know if it still holds the record for largest a/c to exceed the speed of sound (IIRC in a shallow dive)? I know planes have gone faster with big tailwinds - a Virgin Atlantic flight reached 801mph ground speed with a 200mph tailwind a couple of years back, but of course that didn't bust the barrier.

Victor, Valiant, Vulcan. Lightning.

It's scary the things we used to make that we not only don't make now, we probably couldn't make now. I know we still have RR and wings at Chester.

Don Cox said...

We used to design and build our own nuclear power stations.

Perhaps being in the EU made us soft ?

Don Cox

E-K said...

It is all scary, Anon.

I am eternally ashamed that the Blairists took us into Iraq, not merely because of the mayhem and hellish suffering it caused there but the sheer and utter disregard for and waste of our own troops.

All the while our own cities have become hunting grounds for packs of marauding hyenas and everything is reduced to the denominator of the radical superstitions of medieval preachers.

Our release from lockdown will be determined by the R rates in our cities. Vaccine or no vaccine. Passports will be deemed a form of apartheid we'll all be stuck lockdown so as not to discriminate and no amount of hi tech, hi altitude hardware will get us out.

What use is it in our defence ? They are keen to bring our enemies within the gate.

In fact I'd say this kit is a danger to us in the hands of wokesters and Blairists.

Sadly we're better off without it.

Nick Drew said...

PtB - Waddington is an *interesting place* ...,-0.5274525,2889a,35y,38.75t/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en-GB

anon @9:34 -not even remotely: as well as Concorde (which is bigger than a Victor)

The Victor is aesthetically a puzzle to me. It always looks fantastic in photos, really space-age - I was entranced as a kid - but not at all in the flesh: smaller than you'd think, and ugly with it.

Matt said...

Not just assets such as the Sentinel, but also extremely low levels of manpower in the army and a navy that can barely manage to get a small number of ships to sea at any one time. Plus a carrier "fleet" with no plane and hardly any support ships.

One of the fewer actual things a government needs to do is defence of the realm and they are screwing that up (like everything else the politicians touch).

PushingTheBoundaries said...

Nick, interesting as in for it's relationship with the V bombers? The last Vulcan was based there after being restored at Bruntingthorpe - they used to do taxi runs with the Vulcan and a Lightning amongst others as part of their twice yearly Cold War Taxi day. Certainly rattled the old rib cage at times 😃

...or do you mean interesting as in the company of Menwith Hill, Fylingdales, Rudloe Manor and Staxton Wold?

Nick Drew said...

the latter!

there is just so much UK stuff you can see en clair on g-earth if you know where to look: the French (e.g.) insist on pixellation

rib-cage: there is nothing quite like a Lightning going vertically from runway to 10,000ft on afterburn

(but I have to say, if you want something that makes you feel ill, F-111 on full load afterburn is just nausea-inducing)

Nick Drew said...

Matt - those two new "Gordon Brown" pork-barrel aircraft carriers will be the end of this country: fantastic waste of military budget, and destined to be sunk ignominiously by the Chinese when we allow ourselves to be instructed by the USA to send them to the S.China Sea

Prince of Wales & Repulse, or what?

Anonymous said...

We should sell one carrier. To pay for the other.

Chines might be interested.

rwendland said...

Does anyone know to what extent the Sentinel missions can be carried out by satellites these days? I guess the main problem is if you want near-continuous watch, as that would need a large constellation of satellites that pass overhead frequently.

I know the RAF has a "vision" of a constellation of intelligence gathering SmallSats (eg imagery/radar), the kind of thing Surrey Satellite Technology build and the Defence Intelligence Fusion Centre at RAF Wyton would drive. We have a soon-to-be established UK Space Command, led by a 2-star Air Vice-Marshal (Paul Godfrey). And we are planning a rocket launch site in the Shetlands for launching SmallSats into polar-type orbits - ambition for first launch is 2022, by Lockheed Martin/ABL under a $31m British govt contract.

That seems the direction MOD and RAF want to go. With modern smartphone type micro-electronics, SmallSats seem to be able to do getting on for what some full size satellites used to do.

(Note OneWeb satellites, that Cummings&Boris bought 42% of for £500 million last year, are essentially SmallSats in polar orbits - I've not seen it written anywhere but maybe launching a future generation of these from the UK is an ambition, though seems over-ambitious to me except perhaps for fast-launch failure replacements.)

Nick Drew said...

Mr W - there are alternative sources of data (not as good, though), but you've got it the wong way round: it'll be smaller, lower-altitude things that ultimately substitute, not higher-altitude things

PushingTheBoundaries said...

ND. Unashamedly a massive Warthog fan myself. Used to watch them flying NoE when i was a kid in the same valley that Tornadoes would test their GFR. Both amazing planes in their own ways.

Mr W. I noticed the One-web ambition too. Would be great if it came to fruition. Some chatter that Cornwall might also be viable. I have seen the odd article that the US are already testing drone 'wingmans' which to me seems a bit odd - increasing the cognitive load in a potentially stressful and dynamic situation seems counter-intuitive? Though drone swarming does seem in vogue atm.

When LD is over, you might like a visit to the Isle of Wight to see the disused Rocket testing base they have there amongst other delights. That island is a military historical goldmine.

Nick Drew said...

IoW - agreed: we were truly an island fortress at one time

Spent many happy hours wandering around Golden Hill Fort when it was still a deserted - and rather hazardous - relic. They seem to have done it up quite nicely now (but not sure I'd want to live there ...)

E-K said...

Dakota DC3, Boeing B52, Airbus A400, Hercules.

Peter Hitchens makes an interesting point today.

"I'll borrow fifty quid off you and promise to pay it back *not before* June."

This is a non promise, in its effect. It's exactly what Boris has done with his promise to set us free.

My prediction.

Internal vaccine passports will be withdrawn because it will result in what looks like racial apartheid because of low uptake among BAMEs.

Cities will continue to see high R rates and death rates among BAMEs and so we'll all have to remain under restrictions.

Another mutation will be found to cover it.

E-K said...

Perhaps those drone wingmen will be for close up, high rate of turn contact. The human piloted plane standing off and coordinating.

Such rapid pace of technology ! Almost instant obsolescence.

Why not just go straight to bio-warfare ?

The victim nation need not even know they've been attacked.

Anonymous said...

"Why not just go straight to bio-warfare ? The victim nation need not even know they've been attacked."

LOL. I see what you did there.

Nick Drew said...

if you want a real conspiracy theory ... China suspects its civilian discipline is strong enough to protect it against a pandemic, and that the West's is not. It wants to run a live experiment which, handily, also shows the world what's what.

And, up its sleeve, ...

rwendland said...

ND Yes you're right, UAVs are a probably a better replacement for most Sentinel type missions than satellites. Especially when the Skynet military comms PFI ends in August 2022, which I gather from BTL comments of military-types is horrendously expensive for additional large military data flows at the moment (as distant UAV snooping needs). The Skynet PFI is really annoying when MOD have to pay per MB over an older Skynet 4 satellite which the govt launched in the 1990s and essentially loaned to the PFI contractor (now Airbus Space & Defence).

Having said that, I gather LEO satellites can be good at radar tracking of vehicles - if that works from medium orbit or GSO that's probably cheaper than UAVs with faster response to new requirements.

NB the Skynet 6 slow replacement for the Skynet 5 PFI contract is budgeted at £6+ billion over quite a number of years. That's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier league costs, but gets close to zero MSM comment! My guess trying to get this Skynet cost down, or at least more of the work done in the UK, was part of the driver for Cummings&Boris UK SmallSat push (which I approve of). However AFAICS some parts of MOD would prefer to stick with the traditional big defence contractors rather than the young upstarts with SmallSats. That said, Lockheed Martin have invested in young upstart ABL that will launch from Shetlands, so some of the defence contractors at least seem to see the way the future is heading.

IoW - somewhere I'd love to nose around, eg the Blue Streak/Black Prince development site around The Needles Batteries. National Trust now it seems. Nearby Golden Hill Fort has just been added to my to-see list! Thanks.

E-K said...

"And up its sleeve..."

A virus that particularly likes to prey on Westerners.

dearieme said...

"A virus that particularly likes to prey on Westerners."

Yup; if you want to kill ill eighty year olds, it's just the thing. It must be a cunning wheeze to undermine electoral support for conservative parties. In those countries that have conservative parties.