MRA.4 Development Gathers Pace
14 Sep 2005
Development of the Nimrod MRA4 by BAE Systems continues to gather pace. On 29 August 2005, a third development aircraft (PA03, serial ZJ517, ex-XV242) successfully completed its first flight. It took off from BAE Systems’ Woodford site, near Manchester at 1645hrs on Monday, 29 August, and landed at the Company’s Warton base, near Preston after a 75 minute sortie It now has joined the test fleet.
PA03 is the third and final development aircraft to join the flight trials programme which continues until 2007. PA03 will test the whole of the MRA4's mission systems and enables BAE Systems to demonstrate systems maturity to the customer. All three development aircraft will be reworked to production standard when they have completed their flight trials.
BAE submitted its proposal to the UK MoD for delivery of 12 production aircraft in mid-July. These include the three development aircraft conversions. It is expected that the production go-ahead will be given by October and the contract is expected to be signed by years end. The MRA4 is planned to enter RAF service in 2009. In anticipation of gaining production approval, BAE has started strip and survey work on the next four airframes at Woodford, where they will also be rebuilt to MRA4s.