Sentinel aircraft from RAF Waddington are providing high-tech surveillance equipment to capture detailed pictures of floodhit areas of the UK.
The service deployed a Tornado GR4 fast jet, from RAF Marham in Norfolk and a Sentinel R1 from Waddington to take images that will aid the planning and relief efforts to local residents and communities.
The Sentinel mission followed the Tornado sortie that took place on yesterday, with the fast jet producing optical imagery to complement the Sentinel’s radar pictures.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “With thousands of military personnel already playing their part in efforts to help flood-affected communities, the RAF is now delivering this additional and highly specialist support.
“This Tornado-borne surveillance capability is very much proven in a combat role in Afghanistan but its versatility is underlined by its use here at home to support ongoing flood relief efforts.
“As the Prime Minister has made clear, whatever assets we have at our disposal that can make a difference, we will use them.”
The Sentinel system delivers all-weather tactical surveillance information using powerful processing techniques. It enables photo-like imagery of the ground from radar returns.
These images are converted into 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 by the Sentinel, 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 flood in 1947 - caused then by melting snow and extended periods of heavy rain.
Sergeant Kevin Crowhurst, an airborne image analyst with No 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, 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.”