The Government could spend up to £75 million over five years on the exclusive charter of A321 aircraft, painted in a United Kingdom livery, to transport senior government figures.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office clarified that £75m is the maximum total possible cost.

“The £75 million contract reflects the maximum possible cost over five years.

This is despite a Voyager aircraft being converted to this role in order reduce the costs associated with using charter aircraft.

A Look at the New United Kingdom Government Transports

According to the contract on ‘Provision of Public Sector Air Capability’:

“The Customer has an ongoing requirement for the provision of a dedicated capability on a wet lease premise for Prime Ministerial and other nominated Ministers/VVIPs travel across Europe and highly desirable travel to the United States of America in a single flight. There is an existing charter arrangement which can provide some elements of the required service. However, a key requirement for this new capability is that the aircraft must be operated in a “Global Britain” livery using ether decals or a painted solution for the aircraft. This dictates that the aircraft cannot be used by any non-HMG customers i.e the aircraft is dedicated for HMG approved use only.”

It is noteworthy that a new competion wasn’t held and that a previous contract was modified.

The requirements are also laid out in the contract.

Also of interest is the requirement to paint it the same as the VIP voyager.

Andy Netherwood, tweeted the following and we’ve posted it here with his permission. For a bit of background, Andy served 26 years in the Royal Air Force with operational tours flying the C-130 and C-17 as well as staff tours in Strategy, Policy & Plans, Capability Development and on the Directing Staff at the UK Defence Academy.

You can find him on Twitter here.

Interestingly, the Cabinet office appeared to claim to have no knowledge of this aircraft.

The contract also states:

“The Customer is under increasing pressure to reduce its high travel spend, and is continuously under scrutiny in the way it conducts travel, internally and externally due to the large user base, high percentage of executives, and affluent areas its personnel visits. Therefore, the Supplier shall be required to support the Customer in Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, Parliamentary questions, and detailed Management Information (MI) reporting to track and analyse travel spend. The Supplier shall support the Customer to ensure their users adhere to the travel policy in place. The Supplier shall also be required to innovate throughout the contract to reduce travel spend and improve the customer experience.”

The Cabinet Office told me in an e-mail why they believe an additional aircraft is required. The following reasons were given.

  • The £75 million contract reflects the maximum possible cost over five years
  • Ministers and members of the Royal Family on official visits sometimes require the use of non-commercial air travel.
  • The aircraft, with its Global Britain livery, will promote a strong image of the role the UK plays on the international stage when it is used by the Prime Minister, Government Ministers and senior members of the Royal Family.
  • The A321LR will be substantially cheaper to operate than the VIP Voyager for short and medium-haul travel.
  • The Voyager will continue to be used by the PM, Senior Ministers and members of the Royal family for long-haul flights. It also offers value for money compared to the ad-hoc hire of private planes and costs are published quarterly.

It should be noted that despite the last point, Dominic Raab and other ministers have flown long-haul on the A321, rather than ‘VIP Voyager’.

What is the ‘VIP Voyager’?

In 2016, a £10 million refit of a Voyager jet that involved 58 business seats being fitted with the Ministry of Defence saying that doing so would “allow it to transport sizeable business delegations” was completed. This aircraft is commonly referred to as the ‘VIP Voyager’.

Vespina.

The Airbus A330 Voyager is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft with transport capabilities and is based on the civilian Airbus A330. The multi-role A330 tanker/transport has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Interior of RAF Voyager

The Voyager aircraft, named ‘Vespina’ previously completed a refurbishment with a new paint job. You can read more about that here.

The Airbus A330 Voyager is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft with transport capabilities and is based on the civilian Airbus A330. The multi-role A330 tanker/transport has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.

The job of this specific Voyager aircraft, say the MoD, is to provide a secure, cost-effective and suitably profiled transport for Government Ministers and the Royal Family.

Vespina can also refuel aircraft in its primary role.

The purpose of converting Voyager was to reduce the spend on charter aircraft as official flights using either Royal Squadron planes or long haul charter, cost on average £6,700 per flying hour while using a Voyager aircraft costs £2,000 according to the Ministry of Defence.

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andy
andy
1 month ago

could they not just one of the many boats from the new storage site in Kent, at least they are more or less free, because it seems this government are getting as bad as old labour in spending money that we do not have, they keep saying the economy is picking up from covid but yet we still have billions in debt from that to pay off first from furlough track and trace vaccinations money to friend’s with contracts who do not have a clue the list just never ends????

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  andy

This is just ludicrous. What was the point in the Voyager upgrades if they then just hire a charter aircraft anyway?

This has all the hallmarks of either yet another cash for friends policy or some sort of power struggle between government departments.

Absolute disgrace.

I never agreed with painting a voyager anyway but this is far worse.

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  andy

Just to point out though that you should not believe the Governments line on having to pay off billions in covid debt. We have no need to pay that off as it is not technically debt that we owe to anyone. We simply printed the extra money we needed. We never have to pay it back so the insistence that we do is just rubbish. The US and China do this all the time (Which is why China seems to have unlimited funds available for whatever it wants). The only danger is if you push up inflation too high by… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

I seem to remember printing money did not work well for the Weimar Republic.

Most Economists think there will be a spike in the USA inflation post-pandemic. This will spread to other economies. Hopefully this is short term. Some big economic risks coming down the track.

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

It is not an option for a small country or a country already having currency and economic issues. It is quite risk free for powerful countries though. The US and China have been doing it for decades. You just rain in the printing rate to control inflation and if it spikes you can then remove some currency from the market. Government debt is not like debt for citizens especially when it is the type of debt we are talking about here. I am not sure why our current Government are making out they have just got a huge credit card… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Lee, I’m far from an expert on this but getting older I do see patterns, while I can’t see what’s going to ‘banana skin’ I’m pretty sure that there will be something, its the way of things. We seem to be in a cycle of boom and bust despite however many times we’ve been told that it won’t happen so the ‘its not real debt, we owe ourselves’ does scare me.

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Why does it scare you? What happened is the the government needed money so they simply printed some. The only danger is that as more money exists in the system then it is possible that more is spent by the public which can potentially increase inflation. However as there are other downward pressures in inflation at the moment it is not something to be worried about. What is worrying is the Government’s seemingly lying about it in an effort to increase taxes or make cuts. The worry is their motives for doing such a thing when there is no need.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

“Why does it scare you?” “The only danger is that as more money exists in the system then it is possible that more is spent by the public which can potentially increase inflation.” There’s one for starters. “What is worrying is the Government’s seemingly lying about it in an effort to increase taxes or make cuts.” There’s another one. I don’t need to fully understand how economics works to know that we have boom and bust’s. I’ve been around long enough to have been told that this was a thing of the past, only for it to happen again. Using… Read more »

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

There if there are other internal issues threatening the economy then we can simply print more money. If inflation starts to increase too much then money can gradually be removed from the economy. External issues like Brexit are different matter. It is not quite as easy to fix those by printing money (although that could help a bit). I agree that there are reasons to be worried. Not really by the covid debt though. We out to be printing a load more money to pay for changes to combat climate change as that is a far bigger issue than covid… Read more »

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Hmm not so sure. Argentina was one of the world’s top economies, its currency was one of the most traded in the early part of the 20th century.The notion that powerful economies can’t fail has been proved wrong. Currency is valued as anything is more desirable it is the higher the value. If your theory is correct then why didn’t Britain just print money instead of taking an IMF loan in 1976 or print money to pay off Ww2 debt. The USSR could have won the Cold War by just printing money to fund their internal weapons programs. If the… Read more »

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

For one thing, it is a relatively new solution that I think has come from the more detached essence of currency compared to 50 or so years ago. Currency really is no longer a real thing as such and is essentially made up. It has not always been that way. I also never said large economies can not fail. I have said that printing money is a solution to some internal issues not external ones. Then there is the overall state of the economy when you choose to inject printed money. If you are stable then things are fine, if… Read more »

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

They might have saved their economy through such measures if anyone in Greece actually paid their taxes…

Karl
Karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Spot on, but hyper inflation is here, it is just hidden by central banks. Buy gold  😆 

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Silver mate, golds a bit rich for my blood but lovely shiny silver coins in my safe. £12 pounds an ounce coin when I got em all now at around £30 a coin happy days.

Will Dutton
Will Dutton
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Great point lee1, sometimes overlooked but you are spot on. Besides which there is too much treating national debt as a credit card type debit, when in fact it is really an investment on future GDP growth…

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  andy

What, use some second ha d boat…. No, we need a shiny new one to go with the array of VVIP aircraft.
For clarity, the voyager with the fancy tail made sense, either that or a dedicated VIP passenger jet but this does reek, I’m guessing someone is owed a favour.

CAM
CAM
1 month ago

A bit similar to Air Force 1?

David
David
1 month ago

It really is time to take a stiff broom to this Govt. and clean them out.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  David

And replace them with whom?

Abc
Abc
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Literally anyone

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

This is the problem Daveyb isn’t it ?? We’ve got greedy & vain on one side and inept on the other. Its bloody awful really.  😪 

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Maybe you should live in another country and see what a really bad government is like. We don’t realise how fortunate we are. Also, most nations have more than one VIP gov jet for availability reasons, so why can’t we.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Agree. I think the cost is the issue for many not the need.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Robert, I’m a well travelled boy ye ken, I’ve even been out of Fife a couple of times.  😂  I’m not sure wanting better than we have in our politicians is a bad thing is it ? Our political system is on the older side and we have some stuff that doesn’t exactly scream modern democracy. Can I assume that you’re completely content and wouldn’t change a thing, Can I also assume that you don’t like me ‘moaning’ about it and that’s what’s ‘triggering’ you ? Its one of the perks of living in a modern semi democratic… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Doesn’t seem to be much you don’t moan about pal 😄. Things can always be better, but we do have it pretty cushy in our green and pleasant land, and we all take a hell of a lot for granted. 75M is a big number, but really it’s pittance in spending terms. And none of us know the details behind the agreement. And I certainly don’t buy the opinions of some that it’s MP’s doing pals favours. It just seems lately that no matter the subject, to many look for the negative angle, even when it’s a positive defence news… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

“even when it’s a positive defence news story” Sorry Robert, with the best will in the world, how is this a positive defence story ?? As for hypothetically comparing what we spend to either the US or the playboy Middle East boys, hardly a fair comparison, now if you’d said Germany, Japan or the the like then you might have some validity. At least in my view, I mainly ‘moan’ about what I perceive as vainglorious projects like the ‘National’ yacht or in this case spunking millions on a 2 year lease and paint job. I’d be happier to either… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

It’s a 5 year deal Andy. 5 years.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

My spider senses detect an article edit then. There have been quite a few of us quoting 2 years so we must have got that from somewhere after reading the article.

StevenW
StevenW
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

The Germans are currently in the process of purchasing and fitting out, for VIP use, three brand new Airbus A350-900 airliners. Total spend must be many many hundreds of million Euros! Japan flies Boeing 747s. The UK VIP transport service is remarkably efficient in comparison.

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

A Good dictator is better than bad democracy. 🙂 Back on topic this looks like a poor deal there’s literally 1000s of jets laid up and we appear to have sign the worse wet lease in history.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

“A Good dictator is better than bad democracy.” There’s a lot in that, a ‘benign’ ruler who doesn’t have to worry about the ‘niff, naff and trivia’ of keeping everyone happy is probably more effective. The problem comes when this ‘all singing, all dancing’ ruler either dies or starts to decline and those who maybe aren’t so noble in intent circle to take over. Basically great in theory but crap in practice, at least in the long term. For me I’m leaning towards the whole democracy thing, at least we can get a say in whichever temporary ruler we get.… Read more »

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Certainly not against democracy but when you get hung parliaments and a minority hold the balance it all goes pear shape. We saw this with the last parliament nothing got done. I think this is why bojo won because people were fed up with too much democracy. I can’t think of another reason why he won :).

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

I think the size of the Tory victory was a shock but I think Corbyn & Co. had a big part to play in that, whether you wanted Brexit or not, the Tories were the only party that was going to carry out the ‘will of the people’ on it.

I can’t see a decent opposition to the Tories for a long while and that’s not good for democracy either.

Andy a
Andy a
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Well said, they are quick to slag them off but nearly every country I can name is far worse

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

For me the problem is more that fact we have a two party system in which one party managed to make itself unelectable for your average social democratic type person ( your average centre/left of centre voter). Which means that functionality the party in power knows it can get away with more out there agenda. Being a bit of a small c conservative, I don’t like governments that are radical ( no one gets hurt by slow and steady and weak governments).

Douglas Newell
Douglas Newell
1 month ago
Reply to  David

The problem is, the alternatives are even worse.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago

Great work Andy Two key points that make this shockingly wasteful. 1. Couldn’t we buy one or more of these aircraft for that price, given the current economic situation. 2. why didn’t we activate more assets from the tanker deal, fit them out and run them as VIP. Surely this would come out far less than £75m. Whilst I am generally for having these PR assets, I do think this is wasteful in the extreme. seems the tanker consortium deal is just incredibly inefficient and the government do not want to use its spare capacity in any situation. I agree… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Yes, I’d go with this.

I have no issues with the need for VVIP transport, or the livery, or the PR angle.

The extra 5 Voyager is an interesting point Pac.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

The PFI initiative was a disaster in general, Blair signed off on them left right and bloody centre with abandon, with a “look at all our shiny new Labour Hospitals” spin …. Just don’t read the small print!!! What a snake oil con man he was, all bloody smoke and mirrors… The Air Tanker PFI is no different, we would have been better off just buying a fleet of 12 A330 MTT’s directly from Airbus in the long run, we have been totally stitched up. I would assume the A321 is substantially cheaper to run than a A330, especially on… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

I am sure they are cheaper to run, but you could fit out all 5 remaining voyagers for VIP travel and still have £25m to spend on 2 years of fuel (this should be the difference in fuel consumption to be fair). A compromise may have been 2 Voyagers brought back into VIP service (£20m cost to fit out for VIP) and then spend the remaining money on upgrading the whole fleet with new drogues so that they can refuel all aircraft types. once this is done we can then provide the other 3 to NATO – which would surely… Read more »

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Easy to criticise Blair for PFI. However he has not been in power for quite some time so there has been plenty of chance to ditch them. You can’t Blame everything on past Governments if the current Government has the power to change things but has not. Another point to make is that if the Tankers were MOD Owned we could easily have them fitted with booms to refuel our C17s etc. As it is we can’t and are stuck asking for other air forces to refuel some of our aircraft as we do not have the ability to do… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Can’t ditch the PFI’s unless your willing to pay the penalties in the contracts. Having said that this is daft. Bring the other five into service.

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

Pay the penalties and it will likely pay off in the long run. The problem is that the Government have been handing out new PFI contracts. Those are not the fault of Blair…

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Expand the “unfair contract act” of 1977 to include PFI (& big tech contracts).

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Oh, it’s far too easy to blame snake oil salesman like Blair and Cameron …. Blair, asset stripped, deregulating and PFI’ed the whole bloody country and signed us up to every war going without the ‘slightest clue’ of an end game or exit strategy, before sneaking off into the night and leaving an enduring mess… Cameron, cut from the same cloth quite frankly…. The issue with PFI’s is they are extremely expensive to cancel, the break clauses are crippling….. Air Tanker was a right stitch up, we even have to pay to modify the contract if we go down the… Read more »

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

So how crippling would it be? Currently our Military is crippled by the contract. So tear it up and pay the penalties.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

I would probably agree Lee, we would be better off in the long run by buying the 14 aircraft outright and having the full bells and whistles boom MRR Airbus conversion.

We might well be in flight refuelling a lot of UCAS’s in the future as well as manned assets, so the RAF tanking demand could well go up.

Andy a
Andy a
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Yeah not really, I know from my local hospital, the penalty clauses are staggering for breaking a pfi

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

The deal with Airtanker is far from ideal. But so was the context. We had 20 very old L1011s and virtually obsolete VC10d that all needed replaced. The defence budget (at that time a genuine 2.1% of GDP) was at full stretch and under great pressure from the banking crash. There was no money to buy a fleet of new strategic transports. Much as I hate PFIs, which suck money out of the public sector, it was the only viable option. It was not a great deal and has cost a small fortune, but beggars can’t be choosers. I still… Read more »

Julian
Julian
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I have a problem in principle with either approach, chartering this plane or the PFI Voyagers. In either case the cost to the government involves some part of the money being laid out going as profit to a third-party, the charter company in this case or the PFI company in the case of Voyager. If there is an enduring need for a VIP aircraft they buy one outright. I have absolutely no problem with having a VIP jet since I believe it is more than just PR. Secure comms, proper meeting room facilities (even if small) and decent beds to… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian

Hi Julian

I couldn’t agree more really, my point was actually trying to get the most value out of an existing contract whilst upgrading the refuelling capability of the whole fleet.

However I do believe we could get 3-5 Embraer or Bombardier jets for £75m should we need 5 of course.

I am just exasperated at this collosal waste of money at a time when we can’t actually buy equipment that will save service peoples lives.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

And then you have pilot and engineering cost, support costs, new aircraft have to be based somewhere. 5 new aircraft would cost a lot more than 75M.

Andy a
Andy a
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Plus trading costs for a new type, engineering costs, parts stock pile, all the assessments that have to be done. It makes me laugh when people just say “buy 5 of these” the long term costs can be 5 times platform costs. Not so cheap then

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy a

It certainly isn’t cheap Andy 👍

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Just a pity the same logic doesn’t stack when we’re talking about the ‘£250 million yacht’.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I know you don’t agree, but I think it’s worth a shot. A floating embassy for the 21st century. And brand Britain is a winner overseas. If it helps secure new deals that keeps folks in jobs back home, or new jobs, then it could be worth every penny. Time will tell.

Julian
Julian
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

It’s difficult to assess the cost/benefit of calling down one or more of the surge Voyagers without looking at the contract. I’d assumed that there would be an incremental annual (or whatever) payment under the contract for every additional surge aircraft pulled into the active fleet so one would need to compare that cost with the cost of owning and operating a dedicated long-haul VIP transport plane over whatever timescales are appropriate to amortise the up-front capital costs over. I’m not sure if that bit of the Voyager contract (the bit that covers the detailed cost schedules) is in the… Read more »

David
David
1 month ago

Seems a very high price. A 5 year old A320 would have cost under $50m to buy outright. Is this a small scale repeat of the air tanker fiasco?

col
col
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Don’t forget to include the operating costs of the A320 while in possession of the aircraft.

Last edited 1 month ago by col
Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

Did I read that right, £75 million for a 2 year charter of a single aircraft!

What’s wrong with the refitted Voyager? This government wouldn’t know value for money if it slapped them in the face.

So is this a de facto replacement for the 4 BAE 146 about to leave service and if so does that mean the end of 32 Squadron?

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Some are suggesting that it might be two aircraft (meaning two charters as well as the existing Voyager). A second aircraft, operated by Titan Airways has been registered as G-GBNI. Now, I might be reading too far into things, but that registration sounds perfect for a VIP aircraft.

If it’s true, it doesn’t make the cost any better!

Karl
Karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

The market is awash with low hours ex airline kit. This just reeks of backhanders and the illusion that Doris Johnson is important.

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

It seems ridiculous. Surely either bringing some of the 5 extra Voyagers into the core fleet and doing a similar conversion job as on the current VIP one or as you say purchasing 2-3 airliners cheap off the market to replace the BAE 146’s would have both been far more cost effective options.

This development is proof of either a serious lack of joined up, logical thinking or something knowingly dodgy.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

So you think we can buy 2-3 airliners and all the associated support, engineering, flight crew, ground crew traning, ground support costs for 75M or less? You getting them from Del Boy 😄.

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I’m sure with the current state global aviation is in you pick up a couple of small-mid sized passenger jets for that much yes! It’s slightly disingenuous to lump in all of the support costs given that there is an existing training and maintenance pipe-line for 32 Squadron and it’s 4 BAE 146’s which is being de facto replaced. Of course the comparative costs wouldn’t be exactly the same but it wouldn’t represent a whole new additional burden on the budget. My point is that after 5 years we will have to fork out another £75 million or a similar… Read more »

Karl
Karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

You dont need anything big for a long range transport, it started with a thing called ego. Ego just blew up out of all proportion. Gulfstreams would do the job perfectly well. Its just ego likes to have a press entourage and ego advisors along to make ego feel important. Started with Blair, now it seems Cameron and Doris wish to continue. As for Voyager and the PFI mess? A400 can act as a tanker. Ego though made sure we have 20 that are just used as a single role transport. You could not make this stuff up. Money is… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Is the US president riding Airforce One just ego then? Or the Chinese leadership? or Putin in his fleet of aircraft and helicopters

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

YOUR JUST A SALTY LABOUR TOOL, CLUELESS SPINLESS PISS WARRIOR

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

It’s over 5 years.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

5 year deal.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

5. Up to 5 years.

There seems to be some sort of Mandella effect going on in the UKDJ comments section!

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

The way I read the article I thought it was 2 years but I stand corrected!

AV
AV
1 month ago

Yes up to 5 years and up to £75 million.
The contract also covers everything from hangerage, ferrying and fuel etc….to others who are throwing a wobbly over this..the projected costs are not excessive.
Simply stating what a second hand airliner costs doesn’t quite cut it I’m afraid.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

NO 5 YEARS , AND 3 AIRCRAFT

Charles Verrier
Charles Verrier
1 month ago

I don’t see anything here to suggest the Voyager is being replaced – maybe they see that doing more travel to Asia-Pacific, with the new plane doing the EU/Washington stuff.

Jake
Jake
1 month ago

I’m not necessarily against the idea of having more VIP aircraft (after all, some countries have a whole air wing exclusively for VIP transport), but we again seem to be paying over the odds on contracts instead of buying an aircraft outright which will surely have a lower long term cost?! Also, it seems like a waste of money given how under utilised the a321 and VIP Voyager are; Liz Truss and Ben Wallace just did an around the world tour using a standard Voyager (as apposed to ZZ336), Boris is still flying up and down the country onboard 32… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake

There was a report quite recently that a private company has been contracted to supply chartered biz jets to replace the RAF’s BAe 146s, can’t remember the details.

It will be interesting to see the details of that contract, as HMG seems rather profligate at spending defence money on itself and its friends..

A £75m 2-year charter to get a political logo on the side is pretty outrageous and unacceptable use of the defence budget but, hey ho, people voted for this kind of alternative reality.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

Why is the flag of the United Kingdom and the words to that effect a “political logo”? For any party save the SNP that is this nations flag. Not politics. And no alternative reality. It’s fact. The flag of this nation. The politics of somehow being offended by it is what that turned millions upon millions away from that rabble on the opposition benches at the last election. Flying your flag and pushing your brand should be natural. It seems to be ok at the Olympics? But not for HMG. On the costs I agree with you. What’s your opinion… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Bloody well said mate 🇬🇧

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

You write as if there was a valid alternative at the last election, especiallyfor those of us who value defence. It was like two farmers turning up at market with rotten fruit. People had to decide which they disliked the least.

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

Good point. But there was one leader who pledged publicly no more defence cuts, which was good enough for me. Except it was just another fib, as we can now see, with the army’s establishment strength promptly cut by 12,500 and anothet 80 RAF aircraft scrapoed without replacement. O,nly the RN escaped relatively unscathed, politically difficult to cut as it’s a symbol of Boris’ ‘Global Britain’. The Blair government actually maintained defence spending at the same percentage of GDP for 11 years, despite the 2007 financial crisis and recession. The swathing, repeated cuts and tricks have followed one on another… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

The Army’s required strength has been cut from 82;500 to 72;500. But the Army has only 77K, and we haven’t been at 82k for many years. So in real terms it’s 5k cut. The aircraft the RAF are loosing are Hawk T1 jet trainer’s, that haven’t been used for training for years. We use the newer Hawk Mk2 for traning now. Typhoon T1 is being retired early, because it is very expensive to update them, and the money saved is going to fund upgrades to the remaining Typhoon fleet. T1 Typhoons are not used for out of area operations.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

correct its all about cutting the deadwood and stuff that cannot be updated

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Some corrections needed to what you say. The army is not just being cut to 72,500, the mid-term aim announced is 70,000. (That incidentally is a 33% cut in numbers from the 105,000 the Blair/Brown government left us, the Conservatives sure know how to cut public spending to the bone). The army has not been at its full establishment strength for some years, for good reason – HMG’s decision to scrap recruiting offices and outsource to a hapless, hopeless private company and HMG’s stealth cuts to numbers. I assume all realise that, when you create an infantry SIG or now… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

No, it’s 72k. You didn’t really read my post did you. It’s 24 T1 Typhoons. And the money saved will fund the Mk2 AESA Radar upgrade and a host of other enhancements, which will be the most advanced AESA radar once in service anywhere in the world, and will add huge capability to the Typhoon fleet, and also enhance the capability of the F35. As the two types will heavily work together in the future. Sentinel cut was announced back in 2015. AEW was also 2015, with the E7 being purchased as a replacement. 14 additional Chinooks are being purchased.… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

And also, what would you do about it all then? add tens of billions to the defence budget? Because that isn’t going to happen is it, not with this government, or a Labour government.And they are 10 years away from being in office again. 🇬🇧

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

5 year read the report

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake

its pointless if your not going to read the report.

Jeff.J
Jeff.J
1 month ago

I should have thought there would be plenty of laid up airliners that could be bought for peanuts.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff.J

It’s never cheap, which is why no air forces do it.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
1 month ago

Have look at this link for government jets as it makes for some interesting comparisons and puts 1 adapted A330 MRTT and a leased A321LR into some perspective… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_transports_of_heads_of_state_and_government

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago

Is it me, or do we have a few members of momentum infiltrated this site just to have a pop at the government for every dam thing. Next the comments will be full of people saying ‘We can’t have new Frigates when we have homeless people’.The politics of extreme seem to be everywhere these day’s.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

I’d noticed, in the last few months at least.

Opinions are fine backed up by evidence and debate but often the posts are one liners from peeps who have rarely ever posted and are just getting a dig in. Any reply or rebuttal is then ignored.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Yeah been some very odd comments of late. I don’t agree with a lot this government does, but we have had far worse. Or could have far worse.

The Big Man
The Big Man
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Definitely seen a change in the type of posts being written, and not for the better.

James H
James H
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Or……maybe a few people are starting to get fed up with what seems to some as extravagance at a time when we are told we can’t afford to do a lot of things now.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  James H

We have a 16Bn uplift in defence spending over the coming year’s, we are not that skint. And we will still only be spending 2.2% of GDP on defence. Still less than half of what we used to spend in the early 90’s. A 75M contract over 5 years is peanuts.

James H
James H
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I’m not talking about defence issues but plenty has been cut in the last defence budget because we had to make “hard choices” yet we can find
£325m on a VIP ship and plane.
And replying to your comment that we are not skint, when its all being put on a credit card we’re not exactly flush with cash at the moment.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  James H

The 75M is over 5 year’s, and that’s a max figure, it could be less than that depending on how the aircraft are used. And it will be cheaper than the current operating costs of the very old BAE146 fleet. All aircraft need painting, and that is part of the contract regardless if it’s a union jack or standard RAF air defence grey. The yacht is worth a shot, and 250M is cheap for a vessel. If it helps bring in new jobs and contacts for UK plc, it could pay for it’s self many times over. Time will tell.

AV
AV
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Spot on.

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The £16bn supposed uplift is just some of the money saved by cutting the Army and scrapping 80 RAF planes, with all the associated savings in wages, allowances, personal weapons and kit, barracks, maintenance, training etc. HMG is taking with one hand – despite promising no more defence cuts – and giving back some of it. It is another 3-card trick from the Osborne school of tricky accounting. It is worth noting that, when HMG was boasting about spending 2% of GDP on defence in 2017, the Stockholm Institute figure, always more objective than the NATO figure, put our real… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

The defence cuts are so we can afford the 90Bn equipment programme over the 10 years. And get the kit we actually need for the future instead of holding on to old equipment designed to fight past conflicts. I don’t like cuts as much as the next guy, but it’s all for a reason. And the cost of defence will only get more expensive. And most nations add military pensions as part of the defence budget, so that was nothing new.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Tend to agree, NHS Budget per month is £13B 65% Of that Budget is spent on cancer, 35% for the entire rest

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Sorry that’s utter bollox, I’m totally calling out that out. NAO review in 2013/14 showed an NHS spend of 6.7 Billion per annum, with the five year forward view estimates of costs in management of cancer standing at around 13 billion for 2021.

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  James H

Well spoken that man!

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  James H

So if the Government cancels all there contracts, how do we dig our country out of this mess.

They are spending money in the UK and putting money into the country, if they don’t we will head for a recession.

James H
James H
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Or….spend the money on Defence projects, instead of building a vip boat give the shipyard a contract to build the unmanned mine hunter motherships and maybe use the voyager that was already converted for this job

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Why do you describe anyone who disagrees with you as a Momentum follower or extremist? Many of us dislike what this government is doing to defence and its questionable splashing of defence funds on political PR/vanity projects like the national yacht, the paint job and now this weird charter. That is a perfectly valid stance. You seem to be entirely uncritical of the defence decisions and to support virtually everything the Government does and berate all who disagree. Many of us are rather more objective and perhaps less easily fooled, trying to dismiss any comment that is not tub-thumping Conservative-supporting… Read more »

James H
James H
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

Sadly this is the what is happening in politics. It seems some only think conservatives or people with right of centre beliefs have an interest in defence and anyone who disagrees is labour or a left wing nut. I simply believe we dont have enough money for luxury items when the escort fleet is being cut before replacements are ready, mine hunters axed before a replacement is even on the table. Then there is the army’s armour shambles, the Awacs gap but its best to not mention this. Yes it can be pointed out that its a small part of… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

You lost me at vanity projects and moaning about having our national flag on a jet. The 5 year lease is to provide 2 transatlantic aircraft to be available 24hrs a day at a secure location. They will replace the ageing and very expensive to operate BAE146 that are currently used. And the 75M is a max cost estimate, it may come in well below that figure.

Karl
Karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Guess what? People have opinions that differ from yours. If you don’t see the smoke and mirrors exercise going on with defence, then you are missing the truth of what these guys are on about. UK is a busted flush. Think any future government is going to keep these commitments?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

I’ve been following and involved in defence for over 20 year’s. Nothing surprises me. And you didn’t answer my question about what you would suggest to sort it all out? You just come across as very anti Great Britain Karl.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Likewise its like supa tanker onion. slow to turn and stop and has so many layers

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Yes as until a party invites enough immigrants into the country, and gives them free everything.
no party is going to get near beating the torries.

Labour are finished and Liberals abandoned their own policies and agenda they help put in place when there shared the tea room.

Happy to vote Tory @ General but Voted Liberal at the local

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Why do you accuse everyone who criticises HMG’s rather hapless running of defence as ‘moaning’??

There are many valid criticisms of the Conservatives on defence and they should and will be voiced. Despite your pejorative labelling of those who disagree with you as Momentum, lefties, moaners etc. That kind of tabloid speak doesn’t really work on here.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

The tabloid speak comes for guys like you, and a few other new names to this site who seem hell bent on criticising every move, with some very uninformed opinions. It’s not about defending the Conservatives, as ex RN I don’t like cuts as much as the next guy. But many of the decisions made are for legitimate reasons and for long term planning. The UK Armed Force’s are still the most powerful in Europe by some margin,and some very exciting capabilites are coming over the next few year’s. It’s not all bad news. And Boris bashing just because we… Read more »

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

You Need to understand UKGOVS procurement and its budgets. at the start of each year, you are given your budget say £1m you must allocate your budget, and leave a rainy day issue. So you work at around £750k for 10 months. and then you spend the last £250k in the final 2 months. “But you will have had something planned for 12 months to spend that 250k. Then another office cannot spend its £250k now you nearly have a years budget to spend in 2 months. What you don’t spend goes back and you lose it. ie £41m was… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Thanks Johan, but we know all that. I don’t immediately see the relevance to anything being discussed.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

It seems to be tory bashing for everything that’s wrong in the UK. some of the Writers seem to think its ok its like car crash journos. nothing positive to right about so i will write some shite

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Very true mate 👍

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
1 month ago

Interestingly (and avoiding the pricetag arguments) the contract spec listing names several airports (Northolt, Biggin Hill) where the runways are too short for an A330 MMRT but ok for an A321LR, ACJ or similar. The aircraft must be transatlantic capable which means using RAF/Queens flight BAe 146’s are out of the question (they are all pretty old now too and far out of production so spares are soon to become an issue). Looks like the spec is asking for an aircraft on 24-7 availability in London at a secure location which basically means Northolt so it looks like its for… Read more »

AV
AV
1 month ago

Exactly!…that’s the problem with these freedom of information requests…everyone takes a collective sigh at the big numbers involved…but with little context or reference to comparative examples.
Same can be said with the new 250 million yacht.
Personally I’ve no problem with either.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  AV

Bravo AV. Bravo.

AV
AV
1 month ago

👍

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

£75m is for Max 3 aircraft, 24/7 365 on one and call off on other 2 @ notice. over 5 years.
so if you ran the 3 aircraft to the max it would cost £75m, no hidden cost @ the end. its how the do there contracts now, no variations and no risk or surprises

Robert
Robert
1 month ago

My understanding was this aircraft was replacing the Royal Flight such as the 146 etc, as the running costs for these aircraft were becoming expesive to operate

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

They are the Voyager for Long Haul, the A321 and there are 3 included in this lease for the VIP duties. 146 £ per mile was higher than a Voyager.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

With so many airlines going bust or downsizing their fleets, it would be far cheaper to buy near new 2nd hand airliners. That way we could get 15-20 years out of them, rather than an expensive five year lease.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

A quick look on the web. Globalair has a 2015 Bombardier Global 5000 for $18,495,000. Just right for 32 Sqn at Northolt. If you need a larger aircraft, trade-a-plane has a 2019 Airbus A320 for $48 million.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

So you just spent £48m of your £75m budget, Now upgrade and refit this aircraft and provide Ground services and storage. RAF crew and maintenance on a single Aircraft, about year 2.5 you have spent your £75m on ONE PLANE. see why your not in Procurement. Green Eyed monster kicks in. And thats why Warrior is where it is. if something works you leave it alone

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

£75m is five years lease. If you buy outright, you get at least twenty years service out of it. Compare like with like.

dan
dan
1 month ago

Should have just converted the retired Sentinel aircraft into VIP transports and let the press reporters, ect fly commercial. lol

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

A Voyager costs £50,000,000 or thereabouts, however the RAF have been paying £150,000,000 each to lease these things. WTF??

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

An A330 is around $109 million, before you fit the refuelling gear + defensive equipment.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

To clarify. Globalair website has a brand new, zero hour, 238 seat, 2015 built, Airbus A330-243 for $109 million.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

A330 is to big for some Airfields and cannot Land at Northolt, RAF did the Costings per mile on BAE 146 and Voyager.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

I never suggested landing at Northolt. I was just pointing out the advertised price of a zero hour, new but stored, A330-200.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

That’s a total Cost again for the lifetime of the program, all maintenance and Checks are met by Air Tanker,

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

So another spending jamboree along with a converted trawler for ”
Global Britain”? Who are these dicks? We have an army sadly without reliable APC’s, a navy giving ships away and an air force that can just about man a QRA whilst chucking Brimstones and Storm Shadows at brown folk in Toyotas. Oh its ok, we have got big aircraft carriers that need the USN and Dutch, plus Marine aircraft to go on a jolly cruise. Somebody in government has serious ego problems, we need a dose of reality and fast.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

So what would you do about it all then Karl?? 🤔

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

It’s so easy to dismantle. Global Britain. Always has been, for over a century, as the UK is one of the worlds biggest economies, the English language is the most widely spoken, we have historical, cultural and military links worldwide, and the UK is a soft power that provides billions in overseas aid. The global Britain quote is just a word describing what’s already existing. Not a nasty Tory slogan. Who cares if it describes what’s already real? Sounds like New Labour’s things can only get better! The UK is somebody. Like it or lump it. But it infuriates the… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Brilliant post mate, but I’m guessing it was for Karl?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Indeed.
It matters not,
I’m not expecting a reply in any detail….

These posts are like drive by shootings. Throw mud, winge Tory this or that, and go back to annonyminity until the next time.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

He’s one the new guys I was on about. Great post though mate, brought a smile to my mugshot 😃

AV
AV
1 month ago

Who are all the newbies? Think RB hit the nail on the head..

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Love it, absolutely love it! 🤛🇬🇧

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

Well Said

Cripes
Cripes
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Agree absolutely Karl.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

my personal view is that geopolitics is a mite more complex that that and for me the ideal of a global U.K. ( sorry I can’t use Britain it’s not a county, and I’m a unionist at heart) is about enlightened self interest, we need to influence what happens across the globe because a more stable, rules based and wealthy planet makes us safer and wealthier. If you like it or not the U.K. is a major world player and has influence.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

I’m re reading the article and its saying up to 5 years for the 75 million.

Why are posts all saying 2 years?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Because people skip straight to the comments 🤦😄

Ron
Ron
1 month ago

Emm, I really don’t understand this. For my simple mind several airlines are getting rid of some of their larger aircraft, there are several A320s or A340s on the market less than 10 years old. Surley it would have been cheaper to buy some of these second hand and then refitted them in the UK.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron

Then you have engineering costs, flight and ground crew training costs, support costs, ground equipment costs, and somewhere to fly them from. It’s never ever cheap.

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
1 month ago

Will Airfix be bringing out a new model kit? With decals to match the spec?

farouk
farouk
1 month ago

What the UK needs is to base a unit out of RAF Northolt equipped with a small cheap to use aircraft such as the BAE 146….Oh hang on.

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Actually, that’s a good observation Farouk.l was expecting the RAF to select something smaller that a A321 possibly , Global Express or E jet.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Klonkie

RAF have nothing to do with this all via Titan including crews

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

A321 Is to big for Northolt, why they are out at Stanstead.

Expat
Expat
1 month ago

I do believe Boeing have some unsold 737 Max aircraft sat around.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

I hate this government but even I wouldn’t force them on a max.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

Ok another Poor Jorno who doesn’t understand the Home Office procurement system, If you have an approved system in Place, at a fixed cost why do you need to retender? 5 years @ a MAX cost so that’s the worst-case scenario used every day 365 days of the year. Voyager while a Great Aircraft cannot Land at certain Airfields due to its weight and size. This contract is for a Max 3 aircraft and replaces the BAE 146 fleet which had a £ Per Mile higher than the Voyager. and not sure where he got his £10M price for a… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Well said pal. 👍

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

I would mention how many mental health hospitals and knee replacements this could pay for. But I keep getting ticked of for not linking it to defence spending. So to keep it on defence: thats 750 3 bedroom houses build for married quarters.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Does that pay for demolishing the old houses and temporary accommodation for all those families too? Unrealistic comparison. 75M for a 5 year contract for 2 transatlantic capable aircraft available 24hr a day at a secure location is a drop in the ocean. And cheaper than the ever increasing running costs of the old BAE146’s. And mental health is treated at current medical facilities. You don’t need ICU units for mental health.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

fair on the extra expenses. But re mental health we have a crushing crisis around mental health inpatient beds and are pissing money away to send people across half the country to. Private mental health facilities, so we do need beds of all types from acute adult and child to sub acute adult and child.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Pfffft when the MOD blows £250k on Dog Kennels its why there are contracts in place.

and did you join the Armed Forces to get a House

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Forces families need good housing, it’s part of the needs of a family when they are expected to move around the county. Having spent most of my childhood in married quarters, it’s very important.

kenneth j moxon
kenneth j moxon
1 month ago

Well what change I found this group just flicking through posts, and what a very intelligent and informed group it is, great guys