PICTURES: Converted BAe 146s cleared for RAF operations

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The Royal Air Force's newly acquired pair of BAe 146-200QC passenger/freighter aircraft have been granted release to service approval from the UK Ministry of Defence, following their delivery by BAE Systems Regional Aircraft.

Acquired using the MoD's urgent operational requirement funding model and converted for £15.5 million ($23.8 million) by subcontractor Hawker Beechcraft Services, the re-designated BAe 146 C3s will be used to transport UK personnel and equipment involved in operations in Afghanistan.

 

BAE Systems

Registered as ZE707 and ZE708, the pair were accepted earlier this year, and have recently been involved in a series of "familiarisation and operational trials", says BAE Systems Regional Aircraft.

The modified transports - which were acquired from TNT Airways - can carry a maximum of 94 passengers or 10.6t of freight, with the latter to be loaded using the aircraft's upward-opening cargo door.

Developed specifically for the Afghanistan mission, an alternative configuration will also see the aircraft operated with 54 seats fitted and large storage containers installed at the rear of the passenger cabin. Supplied by VRR of the Netherlands, the latter are suitable for carrying military bergens and other personal equipment.

 

BAE Systems

Assigned to 32 (The Royal) Sqn at RAF Northolt in north-west London, the transports join two BAe 146-100s already used by the unit for VIP transport and other tasks.

According to figures previously released by the UK National Audit Office, the total cost of acquiring and converting the C3-standard aircraft is expected to be around £47 million.