The Royal Air Force has taken delivery of its first BAe 146 C3, ZE707 (msn E2188 ex OO-TAZ). Together with sistership ZE708 (msn E2211 ex OO-TAY), she was modified to RAF standards by Hawker Aviation at Hawarden Airport outside Chester, under sub-contract from BAE Systems. An important part of the modifications was the installation of self-protection equipment, including infrared countermeasures turrets (two beneath the tail and one below the forward fuselage) and flare dispensers. ZE708 was the first to emerge, making a test flight on 7 February before flying to RAF Brize Norton and then to RAF Waddington for trials. She then returned to Hawarden for modifications to address issues identified during the trials. In the meantime, Sistership ZE707 (msn E2188 ex OO-TAZ) made her own first flight on 16 February and underwent a similar process before being accepted by the RAF on 28 February. ZE708 should follow suit shortly. Both 146 C3s will be operated by 32 (The Royal) Squadron at Northolt, which already operates the VIP-configured 146 CC2s. They will be deployed to Afghanistan in the spring to support the withdrawal of British forces from the country.
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