Thursday, July 14, 2011


A senior Government minister will be at RAF Fairford tomorrow (Friday) for the christening ceremony of the Royal Air Force’s largest and newest aircraft.

Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton will be at the Royal International Air Tattoo for the first official public appearance of the RAF’s future strategic tanker aircraft, the A330 ‘Voyager’.

Voyager is the longest and widest aircraft in the RAF’s fleet with an impressive wing span of more than 60 metres. It has been designed to carry a payload of up to 45 tonnes, which can include up to 111 tonnes of fuel, eight standard NATO freight pallets or 291 passengers.  The aircraft will operate from RAF Brize Norton.

The A330 will be flown for air-to-air refuelling and air transport missions, but will also have an aeromedical capability, enabling it to carry up to 40 NATO stretchers and three critical care patients. The Voyager fleet, which will replace the VC-10 and Tristar, is based on the A330-200 commercial passenger aircraft with twin-engines, a wide-body and twin-aisles produced by Air Tanker.

AirTanker's contract with the Ministry of Defence will see them provide 14 purpose-built A330 tanker and transport aircraft, as well as the associated support services, including training, maintenance, infrastructure, flight operations and ground services.

AirTanker has five shareholders who are also subcontractors for the programme. They are Babcock, Cobham, EADS, Rolls-Royce and Thales.

The name Voyager, follows the heritage of a number of RAF tanker aircraft, with the names beginning with V, specifically the Victor and the VC-10 Tanker aircraft.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said: “We are delighted that Dr Fox and Sir Stephen will be ‘christening’ an aircraft that will play a big part in the RAF’s future capability. The Air Tattoo has a proud history of showcasing new aircraft and we are delighted that we can now add to that list, the A330.”

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