Since 2016, the UK has paid AirTanker £2 billion to provide 14 Voyager tanker/transport aircraft to the Royal Air Force.
The information came to light via a Parliamentary question.
Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for North Durham Commons, asked via a Parliamentary written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much the last five annual payments were to the AirTanker consortium to provide 14 A330 aircraft, broken down by year.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded:
“The amounts paid annually to the Air Tanker consortium for the Voyager service over the past five financial years are set out below. Payments are made on a monthly basis.”
In January 2004 the Ministry of Defence announced that a variant of the A330 MRTT had been selected to provide tanking service for the RAF for the next 30 years under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme, replacing the RAF’s existing L-1011 and VC10 tankers.
Under a March 2008 agreement, the AirTanker consortium was selected to provide 14 aircraft under a 27-year contract.
According to the Royal Air Force:
“This includes a so-called ‘Core Fleet’ of eight military serialled and one civilian-registered aircraft, supplemented by a ‘Surge Fleet’ of five civilian-registered aircraft that AirTanker uses commercially to generate additional revenue. The surge aircraft are demodified very close to A330-200 standard and can be recalled for military use if required. AirTanker owns, manages and maintains the aircraft and provides infrastructure, support, training facilities and some personnel, in particular Sponsored Reserve pilots and engineers.”
Named Voyager in service, the A330 MRTT began RAF operations with 10 Sqn on May 12th, 2012, flying an air transport sortie from its Brize Norton home base to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus.