Voyager has taken a centre stage in an RAF flypast to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday.
The annual Trooping the Colour parade was held amidst full pomp and pageantry in London on Saturday [15/6/13].
With thousands lining the streets, the Queen and royal party looked on from Buckingham Palace as Voyager, flanked by two Tornados and two Typhoons, made its own ‘regal’ entrance along the Mall.
Covering the whole of Central London in a little over a minute, it came as a centre piece of the flypast which began with the unmistakeable whirring of Chinook rotary blades.
The Chinook was flanked by two Merlins, followed by a Lancaster Bomber; a Spitfire and Hurricane from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight that should have accompanied it were grounded due to bad weather.
The Lancaster was followed by four Tornados then an E-3D, flanked by two Typhoons. Then came a C-17, the first of the RAF’s large jets, flanked by two HS-125s.
In poignant order, a TriStar came next, followed by a VC10 before handing over the skies above the city to Voyager and its Tornado and Typhoon escort.
The Red Arrows completed the spectacle, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke across the sky.
The event comes at a time of significant progress against the programme.
Voyager received its Release to Service (RTS) for Tornado from the Ministry of Defence on 16/05/13, while the first air-to-air refueling sortie with it was successfully completed on 20/05/13. With RTS on Typhoon expected later this summer, it represents a significant milestone for the programme.
The build-up of aircraft also continues to progress. AirTanker took receipt of Voyager 05 at the end of May marking a significant step forward towards its core capability of nine aircraft by mid-2014.
The second of seven ‘three-point capable’ tankers that will be delivered to the RAF, the aircraft is configured to include a centre-line fuselage refuelling unit capability, in addition to wing pods.
Flying into RAF Brize Norton on the 29 May, the aircraft will join Voyager 01, 03 and 04 on the Military Aircraft Register as ZZ333. The arrival of a sixth aircraft is expected later this summer.
Phill Blundell, CEO, AirTanker said: “The Voyager programme continues at pace and we are delivering a rapidly growing capability to the RAF. It’s an exciting time for all those associated with Voyager.”
The operational programme also continues to make good progress. To the end of May, military aircraft have together clocked more than 2600 hours, flying more than 720 sectors, carrying more than 43,000 passengers and 2700 tonnes plus of freight since the start of operational service in April last year.
Voyager 02, which flies on the Civilian Aircraft Register, has flown almost 700 hours and 170 sectors, carrying almost 15,000 passengers and more than 800 tonnes of freight. The aircraft, G-VYGG, forms the core of AirTanker’s airline operation, which began operations with an inaugural flight to Akrotiri in January this year