The full Voyager aircraft capability has yesterday [30/7/14] been accepted by the RAF Air Mobility Wing in a formal ceremony at the aircraft’s RAF Brize Norton base.
It follows the completion of the core fleet of nine aircraft in May, which includes eight cutting-edge militarily converted Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, and a ninth aircraft, flown by AirTanker in a civil configuration.
Held in the Voyager hangar and delivered to representatives of the RAF, DE&S and AirTanker Air Commodore Jonn Ager and Air Commodore David Lee gave speeches charting the programme’s rapid progress and the aircraft’s new operational capability. This was followed by a formal signing marking Voyager’s graduation and reception.
Air Commodore Lee said, "Voyager represents a quantum leap in capability and reliability and will be essential to UK Defence outputs.
“This capability is delivered through the fusion of military and commercial best practice and illustrates what can be achieved through the close partnering of regulars, civilians and reserves.”
The ceremony also follows the announcement by Minister for Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), Philip Dunne, at the Farnborough airshow at the beginning of the month that the programme had been delivered on time and to budget.
The Voyager fleet has amassed almost 14,000 flight hours since its entry into service in December 2012 and The fleet has carried over a quarter of a million passengers on air transport flights, including those in support of Operation Herrick to Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands air bridge.
The unique multi-role capability of Voyager means that it has also offloaded over 5,000 tonnes of fuel to almost 2,000 receiver aircraft as well as transporting over 21 million kilograms of freight since the start of the service.
Voyager received clearance to refuel the C-130 Hercules earlier this year, bringing the number of cleared aircraft types to three, after the green light to refuel Tornado and Typhoon aircraft was given last year. An RAF Voyager has also successfully supported the Airbus A400M ‘Atlas’ test programme in Spain.
Phil Blundell, CEO AirTanker, said, “Voyager provides the RAF with a world-class strategic tanker and transport capability. What is no less significant is that this has been delivered through a pioneering partnership. With the core Voyager fleet now delivered, we look forward to the next phase in the delivery of our programme and the continued strengthening of our partnership with the RAF and Government.”