The only true British military transport aircraft type in Royal Air Force service has turned 35 years old. On 3 September 1981 the BAe 146 took first to the skies, as a regional airliner, at Hatfield in Hertfordshire. Many years later the four RAF machines are part of the surviving active fleet of 220 BAe 146s worldwide.
Serving with No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Nordholt two BAe 146 CCMk2s are there to transport members of the Royal Family and other senior government or military hotshots. A pair of grey painted BAe 146 CMk3s – based on the civilian QC variant – provide tactical air transport in both the passenger and palletised freight role.
RAF’s quartet are part of a successful British regional jetliner production when looking at the numbers. A total of 394 BAe 146s – and its successor the Avro RJ – were built until production ceased after 22 years of operations in November 2003 in Woodford, Ceshire. Together the type has made more than 12 million hours of flight.
In a civilian role the BAe 146s often provide freight services, for example with Virgin Australia. In parts of Europe the type is commonly deployed as city hopper, for example between Stockholm-Bromma and Brussels IAP.
In the aerial firefighting role three operators in North America will use the machine as a 3000 gallon fire extinguisher and are replacing older piston and turboprop aircraft.
With many of the aircraft having made 20,000 to 35,000 take-offs and landings, most of the BAe 146s are still very much able to double or almost triple that number the coming decades.
Saudi Arabia has ordered at least 22 more Hawk trainer jets, sources in Saudi Arabia said on Thursday 18 February. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has been using Hawk for several decades already and now requires more to train aspiring Eurofighter Typhon pilots. The deal is worth 3 billion USD and includes support and training.
In the Eighties and Nineties, Saudi Arabia already ordered 50 older model Hawks. These aircraft are also flown by the Saudi Hawks, the RSAF display team. In 2012, the newer T2 version was ordered, with 22 delivered to the kingdom.
BAE Systems has yet to comment on the news, but is expected to confirm the Saudi order in a statement. In its 2015 results, the defense company already mentions an order for 22 Hawks, which likely is the order mentioned now in Saudi Arabia.
NATO maritime patrol aircraft of France and Canada have come to the rescue of the Royal Air Force and are hunting a Russian sub off the coast of Scotland, according to some British sources on Monday 23 November 2015.
The Russian submarine was apparently detected a number of days ago just north of the United Kingdom. With the RAF having no anti-submarine capacity of its own, the UK Ministry of Defence called Paris and Ottawa. Two French Navy Dassault Atlantique 2 and a Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CP-140 Polaris are now forming the make-shift airborne maritime patrol fleet, operating out of RAF Lossiemouth.
London officially acknowledges the presence of “foreign aircraft” at Lossiemouth, but does not comment in length on their operations. Royal Navy sources however have confirmed the involvement of at least one frigate and a hunter-killer submarine in offshore operations in the area without releasing details.
Boeing P-8 Poseidon
If the NATO aircraft are indeed actively involved in “the hunt for Red November”, it marks the third time in 12 months this happens. Relieve is on the way, the Ministry of Defence just announced the purchase of nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft today. But since it will take a few years for the production to be done, NATO will likely have to step in again to serve Her Majesty’s once tough air weapon.
A Eurofighter Typhoon last week successfully completed a release of the conventionally armed, stealthy, long-range stand-off precision MBDA Storm Shadow missile, Eurofighter announced on Monday 9 November, coinciding with the first trade day at the Dubai Air Show 2015. The test comes almost two years after the Storm Shadow was first fitted to a Typhoon jet.
The trials were conducted in November 2015 at Aberporth MoD firing range in the UK, supported Alenia Aermacchi, BAE Systems, missile designer and producer MBDA, plus specialist trials support from QinetiQ. The Typhoon that released the missile was an Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA). Te test continues a series of trials led by Alenia Aermacchi, to demonstrate integration of the Storm Shadow missile with Typhoon’s weapon system.
The integration of the missile with the aircraft’s weapon system was successfully demonstrated, says Eurofighter. The trials also verified the interface of the missile with the weapon system for pre-launch checks, demonstrated post-launch safe separation and the subsequent start of missile flight.
Storm Shadow is a long range missile designed to take out high value, hardened or buried targets. and is already in service with the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force. The weapon has been used by Tornado fighter bomber aircraft before.
Austria is looking towards the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and BAE Systems Hawk to replace its age old Saab 105 trainer jets, news outlet oe24.at reports. The Saabs are set to retire in 2020 and a decision about their replacement is to be made over the next few months. Austrian Alouette III helicopters are also due to retire, while Black Hawk transport choppers are updated.