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RAF's largest military aircraft 'Voyager' lands in UK


The first RAF Voyager transport and tanker aircraft touches down at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Photo: Qinetiq/ UK MoD.

LONDON (BNS): The first of the RAF's future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) arrived in the UK for the first time.

With a 60m wingspan, and measuring nearly 60m from nose to tail, Britain's largest ever military aircraft "Voyager," a dual role air-to-air tanker and transport aircraft based around the Airbus A330 airframe, will replace the long-serving VC-10 and Tristar fleet, with the first due in service by the end of the year, according to a news release by the UK MoD.

"The arrival of the first Voyager aircraft in the UK marks an important milestone in the process that will see the Royal Air Force equipped with the best available air-to-air refuelling capability, with the first due in service by the end of the year," Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, was quoted as saying in the release.

The new aircraft will bring a considerable capability boost, each able to carry 291 troops over 6,000 miles, and to refuel other aircraft, in flight, from a 100,000 litre reservoir - greater than that of two large petrol tankers.

The report also stated that, Voyager can refuel aircraft at a rate of 5,000 litres per minute; a standard garage forecourt petrol pump delivers fuel at around 40 litres per minute.

14 Voyager aircraft and a complete support package are being provided to the RAF under a 27 year £10.5 billion Private Finance Initiative contract signed with the AirTanker consortium in 2008.

In addition to the aircraft, the package will provide training and maintenance, and new purpose-built buildings at RAF Brize Norton, the RAF's air transport hub.

"Over the next few years Voyager will join the versatile A400M transport, C-17 strategic airlifter, and well-proven Hercules transport aircraft to form an RAF fleet that can handle any task that comes its way in the future," Air Vice Marshal Phil Osborn, Air Officer Commanding 2 Group, responsible for combat support, added.

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Air Force  RAF  UK  Tanker  

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