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RA1 Watchkeeper ASTOR/AEW As austerity starts to bite, the Royal Air Force realise that it would be advantageous to combine roles and retire both the E3 and Sentinel aircraft. Their replacement - the Watchkeeper. This aircraft is equipped with synthetic apperture radar, airborne surveillance radar and an advanced optics suite. It is flown by a crew of 6: 2 pilots, 1 mission commander (and optical systems operator), battlefield radar mapping officer, airborne radar operator, and signals intel/electronic warfare officer. The crew are seated in comfort in "assisted exit" seats and the aircraft has an endurance of up to 14 hours before refuelling (or 20 with ferry pods attached) and a cruising speed of 300kts. It is capable of carrying stores on external hardpoints including fuel, electronic warfare pods, or - for targets of opportunity, a small number of offensive stores including bombs and missiles. The aircraft features a large moving map and a multiple integrated sensor suite - allowing the mission commander to make real time decisions on the battlefield. This is a fully integrated and multi capable ISTAR asset, using the latest computing and radar technology - truly a leap forward. The aircraft is expected to make its first flight late in 2013... Pictures of the prototype below.... Needless to say - this is really a spares box raider!!! Lots of filler, lots of bits and bobs and a bit of experimentation. I've tried to be as realistic as possible - still, for example, have to sort some cooling intakes for the radar systems.. Quite a bit of filling and sanding still to do, and quite a few aerials still to add (similar to those on top of the P8 Poseidon). I've scribed a door behind the seats in the cockpit, and there are 4 remaining glazed windows for the crew. Unfortunately, I managed to sand across one of them - any advice on how to make it right again happily received!!! It will be painted in a similar scheme to the RAF Sentinel, though I haven't decided what stores I'm going to place under the wings yet. It will use an F111 front gear, with a modified DO228 rear undercarriage with double wheels. Hope to finish this soon, but with 2 young children, a wife, and a busy real life flying schedule - watch this space.....!! Any comments, criticisms, and advice will be most welcome!