RAF’s ‘Eye In The Sky’ To Assist In Flood Relief Efforts

Press Release by Royal Air Force

The RAF has provided further high-tech support to relief efforts in flood-affected parts of the UK, sending up a sophisticated surveillance aircraft to create a unique picture of the situation on the ground.

The Sentinel Aircraft waiting on the tarmac at RAF Waddington prior to its mission to map the flooded areas of Southern UK.

A Sentinel R1 aircraft housing a radar surveillance system was tasked to provide wide area imagery support to the multi-agency flood relief efforts, following requests from civilian agencies in a number of areas.

The aircraft, operated by the RAF’s 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, took to the skies on Thursday evening capturing imagery of various flood-affected parts of the country.

RAF's Eye in the sky to assist in flood relief efforts The Sentinel mission follows a previous sortie on Thursday using one of the RAF’s fleet of Tornado GR4 fast jets. The Tornado’s ‘Raptor’ surveillance pod produces optical imagery which will be complemented the Sentinel’s radar pictures.

The Sentinel system delivers all-weather tactical surveillance information, using powerful processing techniques to produce photo-like imagery of the ground from radar returns. These images will be converted in to large scale mapping to assist with strategic planning and early identification of those areas at the highest risk of further flooding.

In particular, by using the imagery gathered, civilian authorities will be able to compare the current flooding in the Thames Valley to how the same area was affected during a similar devastating period of flooding in 1947 which was caused by melting snow and extended periods of heavy rain. Being able to draw comparisons may help to indicate what areas are most likely to be affected next and help the civilian authorities to make informed decisions about where best to target their efforts.

Squadron Leader Victoria Fulton, Chief of Staff 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, said:

“We are working closely with the relevant civilian authorities to provide whatever assistance we can. The Sentinel has long-range capabilities which enable highly trained Airborne Image Analysts onboard to capture imagery of large parts of the flooded areas. It is hoped that this key information will greatly assist the civilian authorities when determining where best to focus their efforts.”

RAF Sentinel electro optical imagery showing floods surrounding a railway line in Oxford

Sergeant Kevin Crowhurst, an Airborne Image Analyst who coordinates and assesses the imagery, said:

“The flooding has had a devastating effect on large parts of the country, so the squadron was delighted when asked to assist, and we have looked to provide as much information as possible to help bring some respite to the affected communities”

Photographs:

The Sentinel Aircraft waiting on the tarmac at RAF Waddington prior to its mission to map the flooded areas of Southern UK.

A Sentinel R1 aircraft operated by 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron (Sqn) from Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington has today the 13th of February provided imagery support to the cross-government and multi-agency flood relief efforts.

RAF Sentinel electro optical imagery showing floods surrounding a railway line in Oxford.

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