Under the £80 million ‘Command Support Air Transport Recapitalisation’ contract, four Royal Air Force BAe 146 transport aircraft will be replaced by two civil business jets.
The business jets will owned by the Ministry of Defence but operated on the Civil Aircraft Register and initially operated by contractor-provided civilian pilots.
The aircraft will need to achieve a minimum unrefuelled range of 3,850nm from an unrestricted airfield transporting up to 8 passengers, 3 crew and associated baggage. The jets will owned by the MoD and initially operated by contractor-provided civilian pilots.
— George Allison (@geoallison) November 4, 2021
According to the tendering announcement that can be found here:
“The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) currently operates a military fleet of BAe146 transport aircraft from RAF Northolt that will be withdrawn from service on 31 March 2022. The CSAT RECAP project aims to replace this capability by adopting a procurement strategy featuring two phases:
1. Phase 1: Competitive procurement of two civil Business Jets to be Accepted by 31 Mar 22 with an in-service support package that will run until 31 March 2024. Six, six-month Option periods (totaling 3 years) will be included in the Contract for continuation of the phase 1 in-service support as required. These aircraft will be owned by the MoD but operated on the Civil Aircraft Register and initially operated by contractor-provided civilian pilots. Phase 1 also includes the training of military pilots and cabin crew and the use of these service personnel to compliment the civilian pilots in the delivery of the service.
2. Phase 2: A separate competitive procurement for the embodiment of military modifications on the aircraft, from 1 April 2024 (subject to take-up of options), and provision of in-service support utilising military personnel in the operation of the aircraft, with an associated transfer of aircraft to the Military Aircraft Register.”
The contract tender notice lists the following as the description of the procurement. The below highlights that the aircraft will need to achieve a minimum unrefuelled range of 3,850nm from an unrestricted airfield transporting up to 8 passengers, 3 crew and associated baggage.
“CSAT RECAP Phase 1 requires delivery of 2 Aircraft to the Authority. Time is of the essence for the delivery of these 2 Aircraft, this shall be measured on whether the Aircraft are both Accepted by 31 March 2022. The Aircraft may initially be based from an Operating Base of the Contractor’s choosing or RAF Northolt (NHT) but must transition to RAF NHT (which will become the Main Operating Base (MOB)) by Phase 1 Full Operating Capability (FOC).
The Aircraft will need to achieve a minimum unrefueled range of 3,850nm from an unrestricted airfield transporting up to 8 passengers, 3 crew and associated baggage. The CSAT Recap Aircraft will be owned by MoD but will be leased back to the Contractor and operated during the period of Phase 1 on the Civil Aircraft Register by the Contractor who will assume all airworthiness responsibility.
CSAT RECAP Phase 1 requires delivery of up to 980 flying hours in the first year ending 31 March 2023 and up to 1200 flying hours in the second year, ending 31 March 2024 from the two Aircraft that are available. These services are to be available 7 days per week, 365 days per year from the Contractors Operating Base and/or the MOB. CSAT Recap requires delivery of a support arrangement that will incorporate all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance arisings where risk will be appropriately apportioned to ensure that a high level of Aircraft availability can be reasonably achieved. The solution also requires the Contractor to manage delivery of all Aircraft movements in accordance with tasking from the Authority. While civilian crews are required to pilot the Aircraft in Phase 1, this phase also includes a requirement to train an initial cadre of RAF pilots and cabin crew to supplement the civilian pilots in delivering the flying hours.”
The jets will owned by the MoD and initially operated by contractor-provided civilian pilots.
We reported last year that replacements for the BAE 146 aircraft were being considered. James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, responded at the time:
“The current fleet of four BAe 146 aircraft are planned to be retired from Service on 31 March 2022. Replacements for those aircraft are currently under consideration as part of normal capability planning. The fleet of 14 Voyager will continue to support the collective Air Transport task including VIP and Command Support Air Transport tasking.”
The aircraft primarily used to transport the Royal Family and other VIPs. It is rumoured that the BAe 146 fleet will be replaced with “Global 5000 series aircraft or similar” jets but that is only speculation.