RAF Voyager and Typhoon have completed more than 350 contacts, part of a rapid build-up of capability in the Voyager programme in support of air defence and air transport roles.
Voyager was given the green light from the Ministry of Defence to begin air-to-air refuelling (AAR) operations with Typhoon in late May, with a formal Release to Service (RTS) on August 15.
Having carried out its first Typhoon towline on June 11, Voyager and Typhoon have now completed more than 350 contacts, offloading 840 tonnes of fuel to the end of this month [Sept].
Phill Blundell, CEO of AirTanker, which is contracted to deliver an air-to-air refuelling capability to the RAF by May 2014, said that the Voyager programme was now making “very real progress”.
He said: “RTS on Typhoon in the summer represented an important step forward for Voyager, clearing the fast jet programme.
“Our service and the infrastructure is now there, while six of the aircraft that make up the core nine-strong Voyager fleet, have been delivered - we have a very tangible capability.”
Voyager received the go-ahead to refuel the Tornado GR4 at the beginning of summer. Combined with those figures for Typhoon, Voyager has completed more than 70 air-to-air refuelling sorties, giving away in excess of 2,300 tonnes of fuel.
A fully certified and militarily-converted Airbus A330-200, multi role tanker transport MRTT, Voyager has a total fuel capacity of 111 tonnes. This is delivered using standard A330-200 fuel tanks without adaptation of its cargo hold to accommodate additional capacity.
In addition to its air-to-air refuelling role Voyager also has capacity to carry up to 291 passengers with a cargo capability of up to 8 NATO pallets or up to 43 tonnes. The aircraft can also be configured to accommodate a 40 stretcher aeromedical evacuation capability including critical care.
Since starting flying in support of UK military operations in April 2012, military aircraft have together clocked more than 5,400 hours, flying more than 1,500 sectors, carrying more than 110,000 passengers and 6,300 tonnes plus of freight.
Voyager 02, which flies on the Civilian Aircraft Register, has flown almost 1,200 hours and 300 sectors, carrying almost 30,000 passengers and more than 1,600 tonnes of freight, since the start of AirTanker’s civilian airline operation at the beginning of this year.
This capability was further enhanced this summer as AirTanker received its Extended Twin (Engine) Operations (ETOPs) clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority.
The award gives AirTanker’s civilian airline operation greater flexibility to take on long-range routes by permitting it to fly up to 180 minutes from the nearest suitable airport. This is a precursor for its role in support of the Falklands air bridge which is AirTanker is currently scheduled to pick up in October.
Dave Mitchard, Managing Director AirTanker Services, said: “We continue to make excellent progress in the delivery of service and the build-up of capability.
“We have a first class aircraft and highly competent team, pulled together from military and civil aviation and that’s allowing us to blend best practice from both.”