Britain's met aircraft
The Snoopy did do this, as it was fitted similar along the lines to the WC-130s of the USAF which fly into the Hurricanes (they are now mothballed and are now replaced by WC-130J's) It was more than able to fly right into the eye of a hurricane and a lot more including skirting the storms and flying into the less active areas. The current BAe 146 isn't and has limitations from the CAA i believe aswell. Its wanders around at medium level and when dropping sondes, low level over the sea. It Has limited sensors, a few air scoops and thats it.
The Reason Snoopy looked like it did, is because the huge point at the nose was full of sensors, so the radar which gives the Hercules its characteristic bulbous nose, had to be put on the top of the fuselage in a fairing.
Snoopy was operated by the MoD out of MoD Boscombe Down, the BAe146 is operated jointly by the National Environment Research Council and the UK Met Office. Equipment, like the computers, sensors, and such is owned by a University. It flies out of Woodford usually i think. Callsign if you have a scanner is no longer METMAN (callsign of the Snoopy) but it is now AVRO. This can confuse people as the same callsign is in use by the new Nimrod MRA4 test flights too...
Re the equipment load, I wouldn't be suprised if the 146 can't do just as much science. Instruments and their electronics have got a lot smaller over the years, and the 146 also has racks so they only need to load what will be used on the mission it's flying.
Snoopy was flown back to Marshalls of Cambridge (Who do all the Hercules and Tristar overhauls for the RAF and many air-arms) and converted back into a normal C-130 (C-130H standard) and sold to the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It was flown at Boscombe for a while afterwards (in standard Herc guise) as a hercules test bed, you wouldnt even have known it was Snoopy. Because it had so little flying hours compared with the RAf's C-130K models, it was released for tender and the Dutch bought it.
The only benefit from the BAe146 is that it is faster and higher flying. The Snoopy used to go where most planes don't or can't. Just like the current hordes of American WC-130J's.
Typically of the Government, they got rid of Metman (Snoopy) due to costs, as it certainly wasnt due to the work hours!
" Snoopy was flown back to Marshalls of Cambridge (Who do all the Hercules and Tristar overhauls for the RAF and many air-arms) and converted back into a normal C-130 (C-130H standard)"
I think I saw it arrive for the conversion. I was living in Cambridge around then. I had no idea why it was there are the time (though I knew of the Marshalls/C130 connection).
Very much correct m8, doing a mail drop on the way down past the south sandwich to see a large chunk of ice that had broken off one of the antarctic shelves back in 1991/1992. Good drills!! lol
(I was on a jolly for the day, and I smoked at the time, so no smoking for about 20 hours!)
The aircraft is the prototype BAe146 and was converted at Woodford to the Met aircraft in 2002/2003 and first flew in October 2003. It flew with an AVRO callsign then during the test flights until early 2004. Since then I believe it uses the METMAN callsign. It will only use AVRO when being flown by BAE pilots.
The BAe146-301 entered service with FAAM/NERC whatever in April 2004 or thereabouts. It is operated out of Cranfield by Directflight on behalf of the universities and the Met office. The aircraft is still owned by BAE Systems.
The 146 is cheaper to run and can do pretty anything the C-130 did, with the exception of a reduced endurance. I don't believe there are any CAA limitations on the 146 that a standard 146/RJ doesn't have. Then again I haven't been involved for a few years.
The Met C-130 was retired in May 2001 I think and went back to Marshalls at Cambridge to be converted to a test bed for the Airbus A400M engine.
I was involved in the flight testing of the BAe146 so I hope this clarifies a few things.
A few weeks ago it was working in the SW Approaches using an AVRO callsign, of which its antics were NOTAM'd in dropping sondes etc. (As it is this month). I have heard it many times lately down here talking with Swanwick Mil Special Tasks cell and local LARS, and none have been using the Metman callsign even though this is the callsign that is in the NOTAM's also so i guess its still being flown by BAe pilots or they have not changed.