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Nimrod MRA4 Completes Italian Job

11 Aug 2005

Within days of the first anniversary of its inaugural flight, the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 has successfully completed its first overseas deployment, a ten day visit to the Mediterranean for a series of hot weather trials, based at the Italian Air Force facility in Sigonella, Sicily. Despite punishing daytime temperatures reaching 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit) Nimrod passed this latest series of development testing with flying colours.

The deployment to Sicily was conducted by a joint BAE Systems – RAF crew. Joe Harland, MD of the Nimrod MRA4 programme was delighted with the outcome. He commented "There is always a risk in deploying a development aircraft away from its home base for the first time, and an operation such as this takes months of careful preparation. The joint trials team worked well together, and we enjoyed excellent co-operation from our hosts, the Italian Air Force. We have collected a lot of important information showing how the aircraft systems stood up to the gruelling temperatures of southern Italy".

Achievement of this significant milestone adds to a number of other recent successes, at a relatively early stage of Nimrod MRA4’s flight test schedule. Development aircraft PA01 and PA02 have now completed more than 100 flying hours between them, with the longest flight to date being of 4 hours and 35 minutes duration. Initial stall trials have been completed successfully and the aircraft has already flown at its service altitude of 35,000ft.

Three sorties have been flown by Nimrod MRA4 on the same day for the first time, with one of them being the first to be captained by an RAF pilot. At a recent flypast at Nimrod MRA4's future operating base - RAF Kinloss, Scotland - hundreds of servicemen and women cheered and waved as the aircraft passed overhead.

The third and final Nimrod MRA4 development aircraft, PA03, will join the fleet shortly, following its first flight from Woodford airfield, near Manchester. An intensive flight trials programme, operating from BAE Systems Warton and Woodford sites, is scheduled to involve all three aircraft through to 2007.
A comprehensive bid for the production of a 12-aircraft Nimrod MRA4 fleet was submitted to the UK MOD last month, with a decision expected later this year. The bid includes conversion to a production standard of the three MRA4 development aircraft at the conclusion of their flight trials work.

The UK MOD awarded BAE Systems a preliminary contract for the through-life support of the Nimrod MRA4 fleet in May. This has prepared the ground for a more detailed fleet support proposal, currently being prepared by the joint BAE Systems/MOD team for submission in March 2007. As part of these activities the MRA4 partnered support team will be working with the current Nimrod MR2 team to ensure that when the MRA4 goes into service at RAF Kinloss at the end of this decade there will be a seamless transition of operations.

The Nimrod MRA4, which can give the UK 30 years of adaptable capability in maritime reconnaissance and attack (land) operations is 94% new build. Its integrated mission system enables the crew to gather, process and display up to 20 times more technical and strategic data than its predecessor, the Nimrod MR2. The aircraft has an increased range (over the current Nimrod MR2) of 6,000 miles and is capable of 14 hours ‘loiter time’ without the need for refuelling.


BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery, and support of advanced defense and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea, and in space. The Company designs, manufactures, and supports military aircraft, combat vehicles, surface ships, submarines, radar, avionics, communications, electronics, and guided weapon systems. It is a pioneer in technology with a heritage stretching back hundreds of years and is at the forefront of innovation, working to develop the next generation of intelligent defense systems. BAE Systems has major operations across five continents and customers in some 130 countries. The Company employs more than 90,000 people and generates annual sales of approximately 13.4 billion through its wholly owned and joint-venture operations.

For further information, please contact:


Malcolm Adams, BAE SYSTEMS
Tel: +44 (0) 161 957 4521 Fax: +44 (0) 161 955 3382

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