BAE Systems has been awarded a four-year £42 million contract from the UK Ministry of Defence for the support of the fleet of four BAe 146 jetliners operated by 32 (The Royal) Squadron from RAF Northolt in West London.
The contract commenced on March 1, 2018 and runs until 2022. There are options in the contract for extensions of one or two years. If the two-year extension is taken up, the contract value will increase to £60 million.
The BAE Systems Regional Aircraft team joined with Serco to win the contract through a competitive tender process. The BAE Systems-led team will deliver a 20% increase in aircraft availability for a reduced operational cost.
The new agreement – known as the BAe 146 In-Service Support Availability Contract – is an availability-based contract which includes maintenance of airframe, engines, avionics and electrical, provision of spares and total supply chain management, the management of Government Furnished Assets, and interior aircraft cleaning and maintenance.
Serco, which had provided support at RAF Northolt for over 20 years, will be responsible for all maintenance aspects of the contract, including airframe, engines, avionics and electrical, and interior aircraft cleaning and maintenance. Through its experienced resource at RAF Northolt, Serco will also provide a pool of sponsored reserves to support the aircraft when deployed on operations outside the UK.
Under the availability element of the contract the BAE Systems-led team will ensure delivery of three out of the four aircraft to be available for tasking at 0700 hours on weekdays and two of the four aircraft available at 0700 hours at weekends.
Mr Sean McGovern, Managing Director of BAE Systems Regional Aircraft said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious contract. Working with our partner Serco, we aim to deliver a first-class service to our customer to reduce costs, and give clearer visibility of our performance. We have also worked closely with our colleagues from BAE Systems Air sector to learn from their Typhoon, Tornado and Hawk availability contracts for the Royal Air Force in order to provide the best possible service to our customer.”
Giles Francis, Director, Air for Serco, said: “We are proud to have been supporting the RAF at RAF Northolt for the past 20 years. We have a great team at the base and we are excited at the prospect of working with BAE Systems on this new contract.”
The current contractual arrangement for engineering support of the four BAe 146s is provided by civilian contractors under the RAF Northolt Multi-Activity Contract (MAC) and covering a wide variety of activities. In 2015 Air Command decided to split the MAC into a Defence Infrastructure Organisation-held contract for soft facilities (Project Hestia), an Air Command contract for airfield support (Project Hades) and a DE&S contract for CSAT – BAe 146 Future Support Solution (FSS).
Exclusively operated out of RAF Northolt by 32 (The Royal) Squadron, the BAe 146 is primarily tasked in the Command Support Air Transport (CSAT) role.
The BAe 146 fleet consists of two BAe 146-100s – originally delivered in 1986 to The Queen’s Flight at RAF Benson – and designated in RAF service as the BAe 146 CC Mk2, along with two BAe 146-200QC (Quick Change) variants with a large freight door in the rear fuselage. BAE Systems converted the latter aircraft and delivered them to the RAF in 2013 when they were designated as the BAe 146 C Mk3.
The CC2’s primary role is the transport of senior government ministers and Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel and, most famously, senior members of the Royal Family, although this work represents by far the minority of 32(TR) Sqn’s tasking. If required, the 146’s defensive aids suite (DAS) also offers government ministers and high-ranking military leaders protection during visits overseas where a risk to security is perceived.
Outside VIP work, the CC.Mk 2 has an operational role in-theatre, providing essential support to military commanders by moving personnel and smaller freight items. The type’s presence also enables key face-to-face engagement between commanders and their personnel, coalition partners and host nation leadership representatives.