Voyager has for the first time successfully refuelled United States Marine
Corps AV-8B Harrier II aircraft in support of US-led air strikes against ISIL.
AV-8B single engine ground-attack aircraft were refuelled by Voyager in the
early hours (UK
time) of Thursday [2/10/14] following special operational clearance.
of the second generation of the legendary Harrier ‘Jump Jet’ family, the AV-8B
is capable of vertical or short take-off and landing, with primary tasking in
light-attack or multi-role missions, including close air support of ground
troops to armed reconnaissance.
support for US-led operations in Iraq began on 10th August, with the
deployment of two airframes based at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. This included
operations in support of Hercules C-130 aid drops and Tornado GR4
reconnaissance missions over Northern Iraq.
single Voyager has supported continuing Tornado operations since the UK parliamentary
vote in support of air strikes on 26/9/14.
by the RAF and provided by AirTanker, whose shareholders include Airbus, Rolls
Royce, Thales, Cobham and Babcock, Voyager is a Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and a militarily converted derivative of the A330-200.
To date, the company, which was appointed by the MOD
in 2008, has delivered 10 aircraft under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft
(FSTA) contract. This includes a core capability of nine aircraft,
which was declared by the MOD this summer. This is made up of eight aircraft
flown by the RAF on the Military Aircraft Register (2x two-point tankers and 6x
three-point tankers) and one aircraft is flown on the CAR by AirTanker under
its own AOC.
AirTanker is currently running a military to civil
conversion on the tenth aircraft at its RAF Brize Norton operational hub. The delivery of the 11th aircraft is
expected in early 2015. A further three aircraft will be delivered up until the
end of 2016, forming a five strong MRTT/A330-200 ‘surge fleet’.
These aircraft are available to the MOD if required at
time of major conflict. 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 charter market, less its
military equipment or to partner nations in a military capacity with the MOD’s