GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12707 posts, RR: 80 Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4728 times:
They are used for testing and trials work, replacing aircraft like Hunters a few years back, at the same time as the RAF had no Hawks to spare.
Some kind of leasing deal with the Alpha Jets, no doubt claiming to be cheaper than buying a new batch of Hawks, though a completely new spares/support network for this unfamiliar type in UK service must have cost some.
Contact_tower From Norway, joined Sep 2001, 536 posts, RR: 1 Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 4761 times:
It's not an RAF aircraft, but rather owned by QinetiQ.
"It comprises the greater part of DERA, the British Government's "Defence Evaluation and Research Agency". Until July 2001, DERA was an agency of the UK Ministry of Defence, incorporating the bulk of the MoD's non-nuclear research, technology and test and evaluation establishments. It then split into two organisations, DSTL and QinetiQ Group plc. DSTL remains part of the MOD and continues to handle the most sensitive areas of research.