A partnership of aerospace leaders
AirTanker is a consortium made up of leading aerospace, defence and facilities management specialists, Babcock, Cobham, Airbus Group, Rolls-Royce and Thales.
They also form its primary supply chain, which means maintenance, repair and replacement programmes are carried out by ‘experts’ seconded from individual suppliers.
AirTanker was awarded the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) contract for RAF Voyager by the Ministry of Defence in 2008. This is for the supply of an air-to-air refuelling, air transport and aeromedical evacuation capability, plus associated service and infrastructure for the duration of the contract period up until 2035.
It includes the delivery of a core fleet of nine Voyager A330 aircraft with optional surge capability rights on a further five. The service includes operational and planning control; aircraft maintenance and dispatch; a full flight crew and training service; plus two-bay purpose built hangar, operational centre and support personnel to deliver it.
Innovation in defence procurement
Under the agreement the RAF ‘lease’ the capability from AirTanker. AirTanker and its prime-sub contractor partners are responsible for supplying and maintaining aircraft and infrastructure and also assume the up-front risk for doing so. The MOD is charged only at the point at which aircraft are made available for service.
Other than for inflationary increases linked to the Retail Price Index, costs are fixed throughout the contract’s lifespan and fully transparent, with AirTanker assuming full responsibility for aircraft fatigue.