A rare Boeing 767-4FS(ER) airliner operated by the Bahrain Royal Flight (formerly the Bahrain Amiri Flight) has been active in Europe recently. AFM contributor Igor Bozinovski photographed the twin-engine jetliner, registered A9C-HMH, during a visit to Zurich-Kloten International Airport in Switzerland on March 13.
The wide-body aircraft, which formerly wore the US civil registration N526BA, came off the production line as c/n 34205, line number 965 and completed its first flight on March 21, 2008.
The aircraft was originally planned to serve as the prototype for the Northrop Grumman E-10A Multi-sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A) that was intended to replace the Boeing 707-based E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), the Boeing 747-based E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post (AACP), and the RC-135 Rivet Joint airborne signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft in US Air Force service.
Development of the E-10A was cancelled in October 2006 due to funding constraints after the USAF had spent around $1.67bn on the project. N526BA was then sold to Bahrain and transformed into VIP configuration by Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany in the period 2011-13.
The exotic airliner is believed to be the sole VIP-configured Boeing 767 to be based on the longest 400 series airframe. The Bahraini aircraft is powered by a pair of General Electric CF6-80C2B7F high-bypass turbofans. Its current registration, A9C-HMH, was previously assigned to another Bahrain Royal Flight VIP aircraft – Boeing 747SP-21 (now registered VQ-BMS, c/n 21649, l/n 373).
Bahrain Royal Flight
Although the air force does not operate any transport aircraft of its own, the Bahrain Royal Flight does have a mixed fleet of VIP types to provide transport for various members of the Bahraini royal family and senior government officials. It includes Boeing 737, 747s, the single 767-400, Gulfstream business jets, BAe 146s and a Boeing 727-200 modified with winglets. Meanwhile, a Bell 430, Sikorsky S-70A, S-76C, S-92A and a pair of UH-60 Black Hawks are operated for local flights. The Bahrain Royal Flight is based at Bahrain International Airport/Al Muharraq.