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RAF Waddington Sentinel deployed to search for missing Nigerian schoolgirls

A Sentinel reconnaissance aircraft has been deployed from RAF Waddington near Lincoln on Sunday to assist the Nigerian government in the search of more than 200 teenage girls.

The 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron aircraft and a suite of intelligence gathering and surveillance equipment left Lincolnshire this morning.

The surveillance jet will operate from Accra, Ghana and will join US aircraft in attempting to locate the girls who were kidnapped from a school dormitory in the north east of the country last month.

The Squadron was put on alert to deploy after the Prime Minister’s announcement 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.

Reconnaissance capabilities

Sentinel R1 aircraft, based at RAF Waddington, can detect and recognise moving, static and fixed targets on the ground and are capable of operating for over nine hours at a time. Photo: MoD
Sentinel R1 aircraft, based at RAF Waddington, can detect and recognise moving, static and fixed targets on the ground and are capable of operating for over nine hours at a time. Photo: MoD

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 pictures, making it 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.”

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.”

Read more about the missing Nigerian girls on CNN and Sky News.