BAe 146 Transports Get New Life with UK Royal Air Force
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) introduced two BAE Systems 146 jet transports modified to accommodate troops and their equipment. BAE Systems Regional Aircraft designed the conversion–from a quick-change interior–under a $23 million urgent operational requirement (UOR) contract; subcontractor Hawker Beechcraft Services at Chester in the UK completed the project.
Designated BAe 146 C.3 in RAF service, the aircraft were already equipped with a large (133 by 76 inches high) freight door. They carried various combinations of up to six freight containers and up to 94 passengers.
BAE Systems engineered two new options, replacing the containers with pallets and adding new fork-liftable storage containers that can carry significant amounts of military carry-on baggage such as Bergens. The aircraft also received military-specific avionics, including a satellite communications link, HF and UHF radios and a successor IFF system. Self-protection equipment was also added, including an armored flight deck; fuel-tank inerting; and a defensive aids system (believed to be the Northrop Grumman LAIRCM system).
The pair joined two BAe 146 CC.2s that have served as military and VIP passenger transports for many years with No 32 (Royal) Squadron at RAF Northolt near London. The RAF uses them for regional transport between the Gulf and Afghanistan, as well as transporting government ministers and royalty.