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Royal Air Force’s VIP fleet reaches full capability with delivery of 2nd airframe

RAF VIP Transport Envoy IV
Photo: Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force’s newest aircraft type has reached full-service capability with the delivery of a second Envoy IV CC Mk1 jet transport aircraft that will be tasked with VIP missions.

Operated in the Command Support Air Transport role, the aircraft will be used for secure, timely and discreet air transport of high priority military personnel and small items of mission critical freight to, from and within operational areas.

The declaration of full-service capability comes only two months after delivery of the first aircraft, the Royal Air Force noted. The two new aircraft have been purchased to replace the BAe146 aircraft that were withdrawn from service in March this year.

Based at RAF Northolt with No 32 (The Royal) Squadron, the new Envoy aircraft will be initially under contract with Centreline AV Ltd. For the first two years, the aircraft will be operated by mixed crews of RAF and Centreline staff, before upgrading to a full military and operational capability in 2024.

Named the ‘Envoy IV,’ the new aircraft fleet pays homage both to its crucial role in defense diplomacy and to previous Envoy aircraft in RAF service.

The original Envoy aircraft in RAF service was known as the Envoy III. It was a twin-engine light transport aircraft, used by the RAF before and during World War 2 in the communications role; one of which served with the ‘King’ s Flight’ – a precursor to today’s No 32 (The Royal) Squadron.

“Delivery of both Envoy IV aircraft follows hard on the heels of a rapid and agile procurement process to ensure a seamless provision of Command Support Air Transport for UK defense. It demonstrates one of the very best examples of smart procurement that we have seen in recent years,” James Evans, Air Transport Defence Equipment & Support, commented.

The Envoy IV aircraft conducted its first operational flight on June 7, 2022. Full-service capability for Command Support Air Transport is provided by two Envoy IV aircraft operating from RAF Northolt.