A RAF Sentinel reconnaissance aircraft has flown to support the international search for more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls missing in Nigeria. The 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron aircraft with a suite of intelligence gathering and surveillance equipment left RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire at 0925 18 May. The state-of-the-art surveillance jet will operate from Accra, Ghana and will join US aircraft in attempting to locate the girls who were seized from a school dormitory in the north east of the country last month.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

The kidnap of these girls is a reprehensible act which has drawn international condemnation. I am pleased that Britain’s Armed Forces have been able to support the international search operation and provide the specialist skills which could help the Nigerians locate their missing children.

The Squadron was put on alert to deploy after the Prime Minister’s announcement to Parliament that he had offered to help the Nigerians to tackle the kidnap crisis and the long term threat posed by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Station Commander RAF Waddington, Group Captain Rich Barrow said:

We at RAF Waddington are permanently on standby to provide the UK with options during major incidents such as this and are delighted to be able to provide assistance to the Nigerian Government in their efforts to find the girls and get them back with their families where they belong.

The Sentinel with its wide area search capability and long endurance is perfect for this task. UK personnel will help to analyse the information gathered to improve the intelligence picture for the Nigerian authorities

The Sentinel R1 aircraft has a crew of five and is capable of flying for significant periods of time at high altitude. It is fitted with a Dual Mode Radar which can locate moving targets and offer radar imagery (effectively pictures formed by radar returns); especially useful for monitoring activity on the ground.

Officer Commanding 5(AC) Squadron, Wing Commander Dave Kane said:

The Sentinel is a highly adaptable and capable surveillance aircraft that continues to prove its worth by providing genuine operational effectiveness time and time again. Like other members of the public we have watched events in Nigeria unfold with a feeling of horror and we are determined to do whatever we can to help find these children and return them to their parents.

Foreign Secretary William Hague attended a regional summit in Paris on 17 May which agreed enhanced coordination between Nigeria and neighbouring countries in the fight against Boko Haram. This follows the UK’s offer of further assistance in the search operation including an advisory team to embed in the Nigerian Army HQ and a specialist team to provide analytical assistance to the Nigerian authorities. The FCO also recently announced that the UK will double its investment in conflict resolution programmes in the country.

Sentinel R1

5 Squadron

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We have already deployed the RAF Regt, apparently the girls aren't hiding in the NAAFI.


Will it finish repairs in Senegal and make it to Nigeria before they machine gun the girls?
Seriously? There must be some half decent Hotels in Senegal, obviously.

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