BAe146 C Mk3 touches down in Afghanistan
The RAF BAe146 C Mk 3, from RAF Northolt’s 32 (The Royal) Squadron, touched down for the first time in Theatre at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province. A second Mk3 is due to arrive in Theatre at the end of April. Although the Squadron have been operating the BAe146 CC Mk2 and HS125 in support of Operations Telic and Herrick for over a decade, the BAe146 Mk3 marks a departure from the traditional Command Support Air Transport (CSAT) tasking that the crews are used to.
The two Mk3 aircraft have been specifically designed to accommodate the increased equipment troops deploy with and can role change to carry palletised freight. They will be used to supplement the current Tactical Air Transport (AT) fleet throughout the Middle East and will allow elements of the C130 Force to return to the UK. Aircrew currently flying the Mk 2 are now qualified on the Mk3 and will be able operate on CSAT or AT Theatre task lines.
Squadron Leader Steve Courtnadge, (36), Officer Commanding A Flight (BAe146 Flight Commander) stated: “This is a great opportunity for 32 Squadron to further its support to operations. The UOR has been extremely rapid; it’s just over a year since we bought these aircraft from the civilian market so its great to see the jet here on time. We’ve had to work hard over the last few months, especially training our additional crews, including our new Air Loadmasters. The squadron is now supporting four lines of tasking so it’s going to be a busy but exciting time ahead.”
Flight Lieutenant Lucas Meza, (34), Captain of the BAe146 commented: “It has been a fast transition to the new aircraft, we received the frames only two weeks before they were due to be deployed, so the conversion was short and quick. The squadron is very familiar with operating in Herrick in the CSAT role so the environment is not a change for us, although it is great to be the first crew flying the new aircraft in theatre. All the guys are looking forward to operating in the new AT role and the flexibility of combining passenger and freight loads that the aircraft allows.”
The new crew spent two days at Camp Bastion completing their mandatory Reception, Staging, Onward-movement and Integration training. On completion, the crew then flew on to Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in preparation for future tasking throughout the Joint Operational Area.
Editor: Flt Lt Tim Peakman
BAe 146 Mk3 at Camp Bastion with sand storm looming.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013