The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has taken delivery of the ninth Voyager aircraft under the future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) programme from AirTanker at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK.
The aircraft completes RAF’s "core" fleet of the type, and joins the seven multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) fleet, comprising two two-point capable, five three-point capable tankers at the airbase for use by the RAF
One aircraft has been retained by AirTanker on the Civil Aircraft Register, and forms the basis of the company’s charter service.
AirTanker CEO Phil Blundell said the delivery of ninth aircraft provides RAF with full access to the most capable tanking and air transport fleet in Europe.
"We will continue to work in partnership with the RAF to refine this service, however, the delivery of the ninth Core fleet aircraft into RAF Brize Norton, nonetheless represents a sizeable achievement," Blundell said.
With serial number ZZ338, the newly delivered three-point tanker comes with an upgraded fuselage refuelling unit (FRU) and is expected to start operations with the RAF following transfer to the UK Military Aircraft Register (MAR).
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Around 14 Voyagers were ordered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) from AirTanker under a 27-year, £10.5bn private finance initiative contract in March 2008.
The contract covers a nine aircraft core fleet and a five aircraft surge fleet capability, which when not in military use, could be available to AirTanker for release to the charter market, less its military equipment or to partner countries in a military capacity with the MoD’s agreement.
A derivative of Airbus Military’s A330 MRTT aircraft, the Voyager is designed to replace the RAF’s existing L-1011 and VC10 tanker/transport aircraft, which are approaching the end of their service life, for air transport and tanker operations.
The twin Rolls-Royce Trent 772B jet engine-powered aircraft are primarily operated by the service’s 10 Squadron.
Image: The ninth Voyager aircraft completes UK Royal Air force’s core fleet of the type. Photo: Crown ©.