Home Air Royal Air Force replacing retired BAe146s with two Dassault 900LX aircraft

Royal Air Force replacing retired BAe146s with two Dassault 900LX aircraft

Royal Air Force 900LX VIP transport
Photo: Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force has revealed that it has chosen the Dassault 900LX aircraft as the successor to the now-retired fleet of BAe146s that served as VIP transport aircraft for four decades.

An £80 million contract (approx. $108.4M) with Bristol-based Centreline will see four BAe146 aircraft replaced by two 900LX.

The new planes will be more sustainable thanks to their smaller engines, leading to a reduction in fuel burn and emissions. They will also be able to fly further, providing the UK greater opportunity to engage with key allies and partners, the Royal Air Force said.

The contract with Centreline, placed by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the defense ministry’s defense procurement arm, also includes two years of initial support, plus three option years if required.

“Dassault 900LX was successful in this competition as the standout candidate in performance, cost value and time requirements,” a RAF statement said.

The two-phase program will see the aircraft initially operated by a mixed crew of civilian and RAF personnel. The aircraft will be upgraded with missile jamming systems and military communications to deliver full capability and crewed by RAF personnel.

“The Defence Equipment and Support and RAF teams have done an incredible job to procure these modern and efficient aircraft. I look forward to seeing them support the UK Defence Mission and our wider strategic partnerships,” Air Commodore Martin, RAF’s program lead, commented.

After four decades of service, two BAe 146 aircraft are being preserved at the British Airliner Collection at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, and the South Wales Aviation Museum at St Athan in South Glamorgan. The remaining two aircraft have been bought by a Civilian Operator.

Operating from RAF Northolt by 32 (The Royal) Squadron, the BAe146 aircraft transported senior government ministers, MOD personnel and occasionally members of the Royal Family, a role that will soon be taken over by the Dassault 900LX aircraft.