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UK confirms retirement of ‘Royal' BAe 146 aircraft

The United Kingdom has confirmed that it is to retire in the coming months the BAe 146 aircraft operated by the Royal Flight of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Answering questions in the House of Commons on 16 March, Minister of State for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin confirmed earlier leaked reports that the four BAe 146 C2/3 aircraft operated by 32 Squadron (The Royal) are to be retired next year.

“The BAe 146 aircraft have been in service with the Royal Air Force since 1983, and are due to be withdrawn from service in 2022 when the current support contract also ends,” Quin said.

As noted by Quin, the disposal of the aircraft will be managed by the Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA), “maximising the revenue-generating potential. DESA disposal also provides opportunities for British industry as part of the Government's Prosperity Agenda”.

Based at RAF Northolt in north London, 32 Squadron (The Royal) currently operates two BAe 146 C2s in the fixed-wing VVIP role (with two more BAe 146 C3s configured for tactical transport duties), as well as an AgustaWestland AW109SP Power Elite helicopter in the rotary-wing VVIP role. This fleet can be supplemented for long haul events by an Airbus A330 Voyager operated by 10 Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton. As well as transporting senior members of the UK royal family, the fleet is also used by senior government ministers and military leaders.

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