...which should make our JSTARs guys happy, though the Sentinel --which is a battlefield tracker like the E-8C-- is smaller than its American counterpart. These types of birds are of incredible worth in places like Afghanistan, where a high ceiling and effective ground target tracking capabilities are of extradordinary use to the grunts on the ground. The Sentinel also packs the invalauable Link 16 datalink (redundant sounding, I know), which will allow it to share real-time intelligence and tracking with everything from Norwegian F-16s to Spanish frigates (as well as just about every other combat aircraft in the US and UK inventories).Janes says that No.5 Squadron of the RAF will be deploying to Afghanistan shortly, though I seem to remember reading something about Raytheon testing the ASTOR with it's accompanying ground stations in theater a year or so ago. No.5's Group Captain seemed pretty pleased with the way it was working out, which is great news considering the MoD has sunk nearly 1 billion pounds into development and acquisition. Will be eager to see how it performs in combat.--John Noonan
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