Raytheon's ASTOR saving lives in the counterinsurgency battle
After a year of deployed operations, Raytheon Company's Airborne Stand-Off Reconnaissance system continues to support ground forces by developing pattern of life profiles across wide areas, detecting insurgent activity and contributing to force protection.
Recently designated in service as Sentinel, ASTOR is deployed in support of NATO ISAF (International Security Assistance) forces with the UK Royal Air Force in Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick. Sentinel is the primary asset delivering urgent operational requirements for wide area air-to-ground surveillance to the UK Ministry of Defence. Working with other complementary systems, ASTOR is a key element in the in-theater intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) matrix, deployed on an enduring basis due to the quality of the ASTOR product.
"ASTOR is a major capability making a real difference and saving lives," said Major Jeremy Crossley MC, British Army. "The ASTOR system plays a significant part in developing the ISTAR picture for UK forces by providing the timely and accurate intelligence across a wide area needed to cue manned and unmanned assets, protecting our troops on the ground."
The ASTOR system provides British and coalition forces with a capability that enables commanders to receive accurate and timely wide area ground surveillance information in a host of scenarios from combat operations to humanitarian aid. The Sentinel R1 aircraft can remain on station for many hours and is able to identify a wide variety of moving and stationary targets at considerable range.
ASTOR system tactical and operational ground stations analyze and disseminate data from the dual-mode radar system through an extensive and sophisticated communications suite, including wide- and narrow-band data links; tactical data links; and secure VHF and UHF radios and satellite communications, all controlled by crews through a central mission system.
During the Farnborough International Airshow, an ASTOR tactical ground station will be on display at the Raytheon pavilion, No. OE9. Royal Air Force and British Army members of 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron who have operated the system during deployment will be showcasing the system's capabilities.
"Raytheon has a long-standing relationship with our UK MOD customer, and we have worked closely with the RAF to support the ASTOR system in its progression from mission rehearsal to enduring operations," said Tim Carey, vice president for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems. "Our first priority is to ensure that ASTOR continues to provide the troops with actionable information for their mission needs."
The ASTOR system comprises multiple aircraft, tactical ground stations, operational level ground station units, support vehicles and an extensive and sophisticated support infrastructure. The aircraft are equipped with dual-mode and synthetic aperture radars and a moving target indicator for wide area surveillance. Since the system was declared in service in November 2008, ASTOR has been deployed twice in support of UK forces in Afghanistan. Most recently, it was deployed to support Operation HERRICK. Raytheon supports the system in the field, assisting the front line with operations, training and logistics.
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