Military staff and VIP flight hours among the UK RAF’s Command Support Aircraft Transport (CSAT) fleet are at the highest recorded rate in the past five years, according to recently released figures.

Aircraft available for use by the RAF’s CAST fleet include the new Dassault 900LX business jet-based Envoy IV CC1 and AW109SP helicopters acquired from European defence prime Leonardo. In addition, CSAT VIP flights can make use of the VIP-configured Voyager multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) aircraft, which also doubles up as an air-to-air refuelling platform.

In figures released by the UK Government on 13 March, it was revealed that flight hours of these aircraft in 2023/24 time period amounted to 1,630 hours, the overwhelming majority performed by the business jet-based enjoy CC1, of which two aircraft are currently in service.

The Envoy fleet entered service in 2022 in replacement of the outgoing Bae146 VIP transport aircraft type. The Envoy CC Mk1s are military owned and tasked, civilian registered, and commercially operated from 1 June 2022; with a transition to full military registered and operated service from 1 April 2024.

Other remaining VIP-related CSAT flight hours in 2023/24, up to 5 March this year, were recorded on the AW109SP (400 hours) and the VIP-configured Voyager MRTT (110 hours). Voyager VIP flight hours saw a more than five-fold increase in the 2023/24 financial year, compared to 2022/23.

In February, the UK MoD published a tender notice for options to fulfill its Rotary Wing Command Support Air Transport Helicopter Service (RWCSAT) contract, which could be worth up to £40m ($51.3m) over a five-year period.

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The MoD stated that it was seeking solutions for the RWCSAT requirement to provide point-to-point flights for “high priority military personnel, ministers and government officials within the UK and near Europe”, which would be performed by “British military aircrew” from 32 Sqn based at RAF Northolt and tasked through Air Command HQ.

Currently, military and government VIP rotary-wing capability is provided by 32 Sqn RAF, located at RAF Northolt air base.