AirTanker has today [29 May 2014] taken delivery of ZZ338, the ninth aircraft delivered under the Future Strategic Tanker Transport (FSTA) RAF Voyager programme - completing the core fleet.
Flying into RAF Brize Norton this afternoon, the militarily converted Airbus A330-200 joins the seven strong Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) fleet now based at RAF Brize Norton.
This includes two two-point capable and five three-point capable tankers, in addition to the aircraft operated by AirTanker on the Civil Aircraft Register as part of the programme from the Oxfordshire airbase.
ZZ334, a three-point tanker, has completed the military conversion programme and is currently in Spain as part of the UK’s commitment to support the A400M flight test programme.
Phil Blundell, CEO, AirTanker said, “The arrival of the ninth aircraft means that the RAF now has 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.”
A three-point tanker, ZZ338 comes with an upgraded fuselage refuelling unit (FRU) and will begin operations with the RAF once transferred to the Military Aircraft Register (MAR).
Alongside its tanking role, Voyager is able to perform air transport and aeromedical evacuation simultaneously, carrying up to 291 passengers or 40 stretchers, providing a step-change in capability.
The fleet has to date flown a total of 9,750 hours and carried over 172,000 passengers. In its tanker role, Voyager has offloaded over 4,000 tonnes of fuel to receiver aircraft in 230 sorties, including in support of Typhoon and UK air defence.
AirTanker secured clearance to begin air-to-air refuelling operations with Typhoon and Tornado in summer 2013, followed by the start of operations in support of the Afghanistan air-bridge in December.
The FSTA contract will see the delivery of 14 aircraft to the RAF, including the nine-strong core fleet and a five aircraft ‘surge capability’.
When not required by the RAF this surge fleet capability is available to AirTanker for release, with its agreement, for other purposes. This could include release to the civil market, less its military equipment or to partner nations in a military capacity with the MOD’s agreement.