Tag Archives: Voyager

Gates open for the Flying Gas Station of South Korea

South Korea has officially entered the beginning of the end of the selection process of an in-flight refuelling aircraft for its Republic of Korea Air Force. Long due and delayed many times, Seoul has officially opened the bidding contest on Tuesday 14 April 2015.

With money and interoperability with the US Air Force as important issues the three candidates for the four tanker aircraft are the Airbus A330 MRTT, the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and the Israeli Aerospace Industries Boeing 767-300ER MMTT solution. Two of the four aircraft of the expected future have to be available by 2018, the second pair within two years after that, according to sources in Seoul.

The Israeli solution of refurbishing existing aircraft seems to be the cheapest solution, with the type on its way to the Brazilian Air Force, the KC-46 the most logical choice politically speaking and the A330 MRTT probably the best choice if Seoul chooses for a proven platform instead of a new.

A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet waits while a RAAF KC-30A taxis past at Al Minhad Airbase, UAE (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Combat proven with many of US and European made aircraft: the Airbus A330 MRTT in RAAF service as KC-30A, seen here in action at Al Minhad Airbase in the UAE supporting the war on ISIS (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

The A330 MRTT already is or will be in service with the Royal Air Force (Voyager; 10 aircraft plus 4 planned, flown by AirTanker), Royal Australian Air Force (KC-30; 5 aircraft with 2 more expected), the United Arab Emirates Air Force (3), the Royal Saudi Air Force (3 plus 3 ordered), Singapore (6 planned), Qatar (2 planned), France (12 planned), India (6 planned), Spain (2 planned), the Netherlands (2 planned) and European NATO nations Belgium / Norway / the Netherlands (2 planned). Note that only 9 RAF Voyagers are fully equipped as in-flight refueller to have London save costs.

The pre-KC-46A on its maiden flight on 28 December 2014 (Image © Boeing)
The future mainstay of the US Air Force tanker fleet: a pre-KC-46A on its maiden flight on 28 December 2014 (Image © Boeing)

Although the number of 62 A330 MRTTs looks impressive, it is small compared to the 179 to 400 KC-46s the US Air Force is expecting to field the coming years. But the Boeing project has been hit by delays and the first fully-equipped Pegasus is yet to make its first flight, planned for July this year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The RAF Voyager, or Airbus A330 MRTT (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER Multi-Mission Tanker / Transport converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)

Very cool AirTanker air-to-air movie

AirTanker, the public private partnership that in 2008 took on the challenge of delivering, supporting and maintaining the future transport and air-to-air refuelling (AAR) operational capability for the Royal Air Force, released a very cool air-to-air video from its aircraft on the mission. Featuring, of course, the employees of its customer: fighter jocks and transport crews of the RAF.

Under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme, the aircraft chosen for the job was the Airbus A330 MRTT, named Voyager in British service. In total 14 Airbus A330MRTT are due to be delivered, with nine-aircraft as the core fleet and five as the so-called surge fleet.

The core-fleet is operated by RAF crews from 10 and 101 squadron, the surge fleet by AirTanker with civilian pilots, many of whom double as sponsored reservists with the RAF. Those “surge” aircraft are available for lease – including on the civilian market – but will be drawn back into service if the RAF needs them. AirTanker is planned to be at full strength by the end of 2016.

Airheadsfly.com visited AirTanker earlier this year and we were impressed by what we saw and heard. Check it out here!

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editors Marcel Burger and Elmer van Hest

Milestone for RAF Voyager fleet

The Royal Air Force Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Voyager fleet reached a major milestone on Thursday 30 July with the acceptance of all nine current aircraft within the RAF fleet. The aircraft, managed by AirTanker, includes eight fully military converted aircraft and one aircraft in civil configuration, flown by AirTanker.

A ceremony took place in AirTanker’s hangar at RAF Brize Norton, where the Voyager fleet is flown by 10 and 101 squadron crews. The Voyager fleet amassed close to 14,000 flight hours since operations began in December 2012. Over a quarter of a million passengers were flown to destinations worldwide, including Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands.

Voyager is now cleared to refuel Tornado and Typhoon fighter aircraft, plus C-130J Hercules transport aircraft. An RAF Voyager also recently and successfully supported the Airbus A400M ‘Atlas’ test program in Spain. Earlier at the Farnborough International Airshow in July, UK Minister for Defence Philip Dunne, confirmed that the Voyager program was delivered on time and within budget.

Thomas Cook
Another five Voyager aircraft are on order, and these will form the ‘surge’ fleet; they are available for lease to airlines, but can be reverted to military roles quickly if need. In June, AirTanker announced the future lease of one of these aircaft to Thomas Cook Airlines.

Only last May, Airheadsfly.com got the inside look of AirTanker and Voyager operations. Read all about it here.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

(Image © AirTanker)
RAF Voyager MRTT at their Brize Norton base. (Image © AirTanker)

End of RAF Lockheed TriStar

It’s the end for yet another great, maybe even iconic, aircraft in the Royal Air Force inventory. Two RAF L1011 TriStars flew the type’s final operational mission together on Monday 24 March 2014. The aircraft flew from RAF Brize Norton to the North Sea for an air to air refueling mission. Afterwards, one TriStar performed flypasts at various UK airfields.

The TriStar was in British service for 30 years, the purchase being a direct result of the painful RAF tanker shortage during the Falklands war. A total of nice aircraft entered service with 216 squadron at RAF Brize Norton. Six aircraft were former British Airways airliners and three were ex PanAm.

Over the years, the TriStar tankers refueled aircraft in every major conflict and transported 250,000 troops to hot spots around the world. The RAF TriStars were among the last remaining of their kind. A total of 250 L1011 TriStars were built by Lockheed between 1968 and 1984.

The last four RAF TriStars final flights are to Bruntingthorpe airfield, where disposal awaits these great giants. Number 216 squadron is being disbanded. The air tanker role is now fulfilled by the Airbus A330 MRTT Voyager aircraft, with 14 ordered by the UK government.

Old colours, old picture, old aircraft, old skool, old everything: Lockheed L-1100 TriStar
Old colours, old picture, old aircraft, old skool: Lockheed L-1100 TriStar. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest

Last Vickers VC10 C1K retired from RAF service

A Vickers VC10 C1K tanker aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF) doing a fly-by at Kleine Brogel AB, Belgium in 2007. (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Vickers VC10 C1K tanker aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF) doing a fly-by at Kleine Brogel AB, Belgium in 2007. (Image © Marcel Burger)

The last of the Vickers VC10 C1K, with registration XR808, retired from the UK’s Royal Air Force on July 29th, 2013. It made its last flight in 101 Squadron service from RAF Brize Norton to Bruntingthorpe.

The VC10s have recently been mainly used to provide inflight refueling, but during the first Gulf War in Southwest Asia in the 1990s RAF VC10s transported sometimes fifty thousand pound bombs for Tornado fighter jets in the area.

Thirteen VC10 C1s were converted for a dual tanker/transport role between 1993 and 1996. The flying fuel station for other aircraft dispensed the liquid of its own tanks through underwing refueling pods and these tanKers were designated C1K.

10 Squadron flew the VC10 C1Ks until October 2005, when 101 Squadron continued with them in addition to the 101’s K3 and K4s.

Aircraft XR808 has served the RAF for 47 years, during which it made 43,865 flying hours.

101 Squadron will retire its three remaining VC10s (K3s) in October, when the new Airbus Voyager (A300MRTT) will take over its role.

Source: Royal Air Force