The RAF has retired the first of its four British Aerospace BAe-146s, with the aircraft, ZE701 (c/n E1029), arriving at Imperial War Museum (IWM) Duxford shortly after noon today to join the British Airliner Collection.
A second example, ZE700 (c/n E1021), has also been saved and is set to arrive at South Wales Aviation Museum – located close to Bro Tathan Airfield, once part of MOD St Athan – in the coming weeks.
The two VIP-configured Statesman jets were first delivered to the RAF in 1986 and have served as transportation for the Royal family, government ministers and high-ranking military personnel. However, the pair of BAe 146 C3s are a much more recent acquisition. They were pressed into service in 2013 following a £15.5m urgent operational requirement to enable safe troop and freight transportation in the Afghan theatre while reducing strain on the RAF’s C-130J/K fleet. The two jets were originally built for the commercial sector as ‘quick change’ BAe 146-200QCs with a freight door in the rear fuselage and the ability to carry palletised freight or passengers.