The Honourable Company of Air Pilots incorporating Air Navigators

The Johnston Memorial Trophy

Awarded for outstanding performance in the operation of airborne or space systems, manned or unmanned.

(amended Terms of Reference 2019)

The Johnston Memorial Trophy

2021  Awarded to:  The Royal Air Force Sentinel Force


Sentinel was introduced into Royal Air Force service with V (Army Co-operation) Squadron in 2007 before flying its first operational mission in 2008 on ‘OP Herrick’ over Afghanistan, offering clear and timely understanding of the ground environment through an airborne stand-off radar capability. Sentinel has repeatedly surpassed commanders' expectations, earning itself a unique place in the UK’s military contribution to warfighting and peace support operations around the world, including in Europe, Libya, sub-Saharan Africa, Iraq and Syria.

Wg Cdr Turston Taylor And Cpl Jess Whitfield Johnston MemorialIn January 2021, Sentinel flew its final deployed operational sortie from Cyprus on ‘OP Shader’ – the UK's contribution to the Counter-Daesh Coalition in Iraq and Syria. Writing on the occasion of its withdrawal, the UK's Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, cited Sentinel’s invaluable life-saving contribution to operations, adding, ‘Right to the end of its commission, V(AC) Squadron has been a constant among my deployed Force Elements. It is a record to be proud of.’  The Commander of the United States’ 9th Air Force and Air Force Central Commander, Lieutenant General Gregory Guillot, also commended Sentinel, remarking that, ‘Sentinel has been a vital RAF contribution to Coalition operations…providing tipping and cueing for potential threats across the Levant, Libya and Mali.’ 

Coinciding with much of the Force’s deployed time on ‘OP Shader’, Sentinel aircraft maintained a relentless programme of strategic reconnaissance missions for NATO on the Alliance’s eastern flank, flying from RAF Waddington. Tasking accelerated as the aircraft approached its 2021 retirement, its radar precisely picking out the displacement and identities of naval, air and land-based units in all weathers. It was a fitting finale for a capability that had earned its spurs in the skies over Afghanistan; having innovatively mapped the dreadful flooding in England in 2007; provided vital intelligence during intense air operations over Libya; and, in response to the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria, and in order to counter the uprising of Violent Extremist Organisations in the country, deploying and subsequently mapping the whole of Nigeria within 10 sorties using its airborne radar – a unique effort of intelligence collect while accomplishing UK diplomacy.

By any standard, Sentinel’s achievements have been consistently remarkable. With an unmatched serviceability record, it has flown over 32,000 hours in almost 5,000 sorties, the majority being on operations.

Underpinning the Squadron’s successes have been the tireless endeavours of all those involved in the Sentinel Force, from support elements at RAF Waddington and Defence Equipment and Support, to the unstinting assistance of Raytheon Systems Limited. Aries Flight within 1 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing merits special mention. For years, it has played a pivotal and equal role with V(AC) Squadron in exploiting Sentinel’s output, providing a forensic view of the data significantly enhancing the output of the Squadron and complimenting the near-real-time analysis provided by the mission crew.

In recognition of its unparalleled contribution to Royal Air Force, NATO and Coalition operations over the past fourteen years, the Sentinel Force is awarded the Johnston Memorial Trophy.


Previous Winners:

1931 Sir Francis Chichester

1932 Squadron Leader Herbert/ J L Hinkler Esq

1933 J A Mollison Esq

1934 Not Awarded

1935 E W Percival Esq

1936 Miss Jean Batten

1937 A S Wilcockson Esq

1938 D C T Bennett Esq

1940 - 1948 Not Awarded

1948/49 W H Crowther Esq/ R B Tapp Esq/ L R Ambrose Esq QANTAS

1949/50 Captain P G Taylor

1951 Not Awarded

1950/51 Captain P G Taylor

1952 Not Awarded

1951/52 Captain P G Taylor

1952/53 Captains and Crew of Service Aircraft "Aries"

1953/54 Pilots and Navigators of Comet Fleet BOAC

1955 Not Awarded

1955/56 Captain J H Saffery and Pilots and Navigators of Hunting Aero Surveys on Antartic Expedition

1956/57 Squadron Leader J H Lewis, Commanding the RAF Detachment Unit with the British Commonwealth Trans-Antartic Expedition

1957/58 Captain and Navigational Crews of the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment

1959/60 The Decca Navigator Company Limited

1961 Not Awarded

1961/62 G E Beck Esq, M Morgan Esq of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co.

1962/63 Wing Commander D F H Grocott

1964 - 1967 Not Awarded

1967/68 Wing Commander E W Anderson

1969 - 1973 Not Awarded

1973/74 Flt Lt R M S Cook & Flt Lt R W Hardisty

1974/75 Flt Lt E G Candlish & Flt Lt J Vinales

1976 Not Awarded

1976/77 W P Robinson Esq

1977/78 The Royal Air Force Tanker Wing 

1979 Not Awarded

1979/80 Captain G Vette & M Forsyth Esq 

1981 - 1982 Not Awarded

1982/83 Commander S C Thornewill RN

1984 - 1985 Not Awarded

1985/86 The Giotto Space Probe Navigation Team

1986/87 The Voyager Team

1988  Not Awarded

1988/89 Wing Commander Raymond L Lomas RAF

1989/90 Peter Norvill Esq

1991 - 1994 Not Awarded

1994/95 Flight Lieutenant J W Hendy

1995/96 Captain Alex Fisher

1996/97 Captain David Massy-Greene QANTAS

1997/98 James C Lawson Esq

1998/99 Jon Johanson

1999/2000 Flight Lieutenant David Wilson RAF

2000/01 Thomas Beverley Nichols

2001/02 Flight Lieutenant Timothy Carr RAF

2002/03 Geoffrey Alan Burtenshaw

2003/04 Number 33 Squadron RAF

2005 Not Awarded

2005/06 Sea King Mk7 Trials Team - Lieutenant Commander Tite RN, Lieutenant Commander Ling RN, Lieutenant Commander Smith RNR, Lieutenant Commander Richardson RN (retd)

2006/07 Boeing J0UCAS Programme X-45A

2007/08 815 Naval Air Squadron Training Team

2008/09 5 (AC) Squadron

2009/10 51 Squadron RAF

2010/11 Attack Helicopter Force ("UK Team Apache")

2011/12 Squadron Leader J Jody McMeeking RAF

2012/13 Squadron Leader Simon Mellor RAF

2013/14  3rd Special Operations Squadron USAF

2015  Not Awarded

2016  Royal Air Force UK Reaper Force

2017 British Antarctic Survey Air Unit

2018  700X Naval Air Squadron

2019  The Tornado GR Force

2020  Not Awarded

2021  The Royal Air Force Sentinel Force