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NIMROD MRA4 in pole position


Farnborough, UK – Nimrod MRA4 development aircraft PA02 has successfully completed its longest and furthest flight to date, heading deep into the Arctic to investigate polar navigation.

The aircraft took off from Prestwick in Scotland with its heaviest ever fuel load, returning to Warton, Lancashire, just over 12 hours later after a journey of over 4000 nautical miles.

The route took the aircraft up between Greenland and Svalbard Island and gave excellent views of the ice shelf when the cloud cleared above 80 Degrees North.

The aircraft carried out a series of ’race track’ manoeuvres at both 80 and 85.1 Degrees North to assess navigation accuracy before returning south, tracking parallel to the Norwegian coast then crossing the North Sea.

Aircraft captain Neil Dawson said: “the aircraft behaved almost flawlessly and the navigation system worked admirably throughout. The radar was used in all modes with good detection ranges and we had some interesting pictures of the ice shelf”.

At the most northerly position, Neil held a satellite phone conversation with Joe Harland, BAE Systems Large Aircraft Managing Director to update him on progress. Joe said; “this is a great achievement. Other than Santa Claus, there’s no one I’d rather have call me from the top of the world than Neil Dawson, on the sat-phone in PA02”.

This success builds on significant progress made on the design and development programme which is targeted for completion by the end of the year. Recent highlights have included a highly successful overseas detachment for natural icing trials, testing of the new stability augmentation system and safe separation trials of torpedoes and other stores.

The flight test part of the design and development programme is being performed by PA01 and PA02, while the third development aircraft PA03 is being used to review maintenance procedures and as a ground-based test rig.

“The development aircraft are rapidly approaching 350 test flights and have now passed the 1100 flying hour mark, and all aircraft systems are on track to meet their target level of maturity”, said Joe. “We are planning to close the flight test programme before the end of this year and are working closely with our partners in the MoD to ensure that we deliver an excellent aircraft weapons system and value for money”.


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