BAE Systems is offering its out-of-production regional aircraft as a bridging solution for armies and air forces affected by military transport delivery delays, and is looking to build on a breakthrough deal with a UK Ministry of Defence contractor.
In December, BAE revealed that Titan Airways had leased one of its BAe 146s to fulfil a six-month MoD contract in the Middle East.
Titan, a UK-based charter specialist, had been seeking an aircraft to fly "several times a week" between Bahrain, Muscat in Oman and Minhad in the United Arab Emirates, transporting "around 45 passengers" and freight on these sectors.
© BAE Systems
Now, BAE's regional aircraft division is seeking to expand its presence in military markets. "We're aware that a number of replacement programmes for transport aircraft are running significantly late, and that there may be some opportunities to provide interim capacity," says Steve Doughty, vice-president of sales and marketing at the division.
Deployment of an Avro RJ or BAe 146 could allow a military user to "get 50% of the capability of a specialist aeroplane at 10% of the price" when faced with budgetary constraints or technical delays, he argues.
BAE believes there is also straightforward replacement business to be won, estimating that, globally, over 1,700 ageing turboprop and jet airliners are used for transport and communication tasks by 150 air arms.
Additionally, regional aircraft could be used to free up high-value assets deployed on missions beneath their capability. "Burning up cycles on a [Lockheed Martin C-130] Hercules carrying passengers around, or carrying mail, does not sound like a good use of those assets," says Doughty.
"Use those assets at what they're good for: rear loading ramp capability and special mission operations."
BAE first outlined its so-called 146M passenger/freighter proposal at last September's DSEi exhibition in the UK.