The UK Royal Air Force’s first production Nimrod MRA4 aircraft in undergoing final testing before taking its maiden flight.

The MRA4 is a maritime reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering platform for monitoring enemy activity with an operations range of 6,000 miles, with the capability to fly 14 hours without refuelling.

The production contract for 12 Nimrod MRA4s was awarded to BAE by the UK MoD in July 2006.

The first production aircraft numbered PA04 is the first of the series of production standard aircraft to be built and one of the four aircraft to be delivered to its future main operating base at RAF Kinloss.

The aircraft’s integrated mission system enables the crew to gather, process and display up to 20 times more technical and strategic data than the older MR2 variant.

At present, the aircraft is undergoing intensive tests to check aircraft controls and systems including engine ground runs and taxi trials.

The aircraft is expected to enter into service by end of 2010.