A Royal Air Force Brize Norton based Voyager aircraft, currently operating from Cyprus, has carried out Air-to-Air Refuelling drills, with a French Air and Space Force A400M Atlas Transport aircraft.

The Royal Air Force say here that unlike a routine refuelling sortie, the opportunity was taken to carry out multiple refuelling drills over the Eastern Mediterranean to give the French pilots the experience of carrying out Air-to-Air Refuelling from an RAF Voyager Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft. 

This was the first time a French A400M Atlas has conducted such training with an RAF Voyager.

“It is a great opportunity to carry out drills such as this sortie provided, with our French friends and Allies. Refuelling another nation’s A400M, is something that we do not often have the opportunity to do”, said Squadron Leader Willers, 903 Expeditionary Air Wing Air Mobility Detachment Commander.

The primary role of the Voyager, when based in Cyprus is “to contribute to the ongoing counter Daesh mission being conducted by the global coalition”. This, say the RAF, involves regular sorties to conduct Air-to-Air refuelling of RAF Typhoon and other suitably equipped coalition aircraft for their sorties over Syria and Iraq.

You can read more on Voyager from the RAF here.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Louis
Louis
1 month ago

I still find it incredible that the USAF has 400+ tankers and still has to contract private companies for AAR, whilst the RAF makes do with 9 Voyagers.

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

In order to find their targets the USAF have to travel thousands of miles over multiple oceans to access multiple theatres. Whilst the UK has the capability to strike across the world it is not trying to compete with the US.

Louis
Louis
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark B

Sure, but 3/9 of the RAF fleet is deployed and 1/9 on QRA, and the rest of the fleet also conducts transport flights. I know the USAF is a lot larger and has more global operations but the difference still seems crazy.

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

Point taken. It would appear that the current arrangements meets current comittments so I suppose that is a positive however I think we all share a little irritation that the RAF is not capable of far more.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

The RAF doesn’t even have true strategic boom refueling capability. The P-8’s for example have no way to be refueled by RAF tankers. The whole Air Tanker fiasco has been a disaster from the start. It was designed to line private company pockets, not provide air tanker capacity. Basically corruption.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

Thought we had 14 in total?

Louis
Louis
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

AirTanker has 14 in the contract but 9 are in the core fleet. Of the other 5 one is in RAF use as the VIP transport, 2 are operated by AirTanker in the Falklands airbridge and carrying weapons to Poland for Ukraine, and the other 2 are with Jet2 I think.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

👍

Enobob
Enobob
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

The VIP configured airframe is fully tanker capable and has been pictured on numerous AAR sorties in recent months. It is NOT a dedicated VIP aircraft.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

USAF is serious about global operations. RAF is not.

Not putting the fault on RAF, but on British electorate.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlexS
Enobob
Enobob
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

The RAf is currently deployed globally. Did you not watch the recent TV doc on Lossiemouth when the station had 2 squadrons simultaneously deployed to Estonia and Cyprus, the Cyprus det on actual ops, the Estonia det on NATO duty.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

It’s been a very long time since Britain was the global policeman. We need to retain the air bridge to the Falklands tho – Now that the Argentine has elected a right wing headbanger who has re-stated their claim to the islands

Ian
Ian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

In the Argentine political environment I don’t think it’s really possible for a leader not to assert a claim on the islands. But they are in no plausible position to enforce it.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

The Argentine head banging new far right elected leader is only making noises to appeal to his idiotic voters. There are a few things to consider. 1) Argentina is suffering from massive inflation and is basically an economic basket case, with large numbers of its young wanting to leave the country asap. 2) The Argentine military is not in a position to threaten the Falklands at this time- although this is something the UK military need to monitor closely and if the Argentinians military do get a magic uplift courtesy of China/ Pakistan etc in capability then the UK military… Read more »

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

I have replied to your post, but its been held pending moderation

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Whom would you suggest the electorate vote for to change that?

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

We’re stuffed at the moment.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago

Am I right in saying RAF A400s don’t have refuelling capability 🤔

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

They can be Re-Fuelled by other Aircraft,but don’t have the equipment to do the Refuelling themselves 👍

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

🍺

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

Absurd? Why not? Other countries A400m’s take the role of refueler.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Because the T&C’s of the Airtanker contract make it very difficult for the RAF to use additional assets for such a role.

Math
Math
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

I don’t get why an Airbus A330 could not be supplemented by an Airbus A400. What company act as middle man?
Nevertheless, it is great to have air forces acting together.

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Math

The U.K. doesn’t really need the A400 for AAR work as it has enough for the jobs it does. If it’s needed a work around will happen.
It’s been a long time since the RAF used the tactical transport fleet for AAR.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Not completely true. Now that the Herc is no longer with us, the capacity for refuelling helicopters is over. In the past it was cleared to refuel helicopters, though this was not taken up. Bearing in mind Herc’s haven’t had the refuelling capacity for years.

However, the new Chinook buy, is for additional fat tank versions that include refuelling booms. The RAF will not have the capacity to refuel these aircraft in flight. The A400M has after a lengthy trial period now been cleared to refuel helicopters. Will the RAF A400Ms be allowed by the contract to refuel the Chinooks?

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Yes they can refuel anything the contract tanker aircraft can’t. No exclusive clause.
The fees aren’t that much for refuelling outwith the tanker contract anyway but would be exempt for Aircraft out with the A330s scope/abilities is my understanding

Ryan
Ryan
1 month ago

What would be the cost of not renewing Air Tankers contract, fitting all 14 Voyagers with booms and the Atlas fleet with probe and drogue? Surely a good use of money,

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan

Probably more than the Govt ( any ) would be prepared to pay.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan

The gov needs to rule the Air Tanker contract as corruption/extortion. It’s a beyond absurd situation for a nation of this stature to be in.

farouk
farouk
1 month ago

Completely off topic: Iranian-backed terrorists inside Iraq launched a number of short range ballistic missiles at US troops housed at Al Assad Airbase injuring a number of soldiers. The problem for the Iraqis was there was a C-130 Ghostrider gunship in the area comes equipped with:
30mm and 105mm cannons
GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb,
GBU-69 Small Glide Munition,
AGM-114 Hellfire missile
and AGM-176 Griffin missile

and according to the DoD, the Iranians lost a number of troops

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Was reading that the French government are looking into buying an Hercules gun ship ,quite surprise. 🤔

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

the US are looking at removing the 105mm from the AC-130

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

I read that also. Perhaps it just isn’t used much anymore. Wouldn’t think it would be removed if it’s still used a lot.
Too much damage possibly, risk of collateral damage etc

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

I am surprised by that, as it was used a lot in Afghan and Iraq.