It has been revealed that the RAF have been making very light use of Voyager surge aircraft available to, reflecting best practice for the surge fleet and suggesting the mixture of operational and surge aircraft is appropriate.

14 Voyagers are in the UK’s fleet, nine are in the RAF’s “core” capability and the other five are considered “surge” aircraft and are often leased to airlines when not required.

It should be noted that one or two of the surge fleet remain in the Air Tanker livery and are ofte flown permanently on MoD transport duties to the Falkands, Canada and locations.

We have been informed that MoD is making excellent use of some of the surge Voyagers.

The information comes in the form of a response to a written parliamentary question.

Asked by Andrew Gwynne (MP for Denton and Reddish):
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many and what proportion of aircraft in the Voyager surge fleet has been used by the Royal Air Force in each month since the first aircraft of that fleet was delivered.”

Answered by: Philip Dunne (Minister for Defence Procurement)
“Voyager surge aircraft are owned by AirTanker Services Ltd and leased to civil airlines. No Voyager surge aircraft have been recalled to the military aircraft register for use by the Royal Air Force’s Voyager Squadrons. However, there have been seven occasions when Civilian registered Voyager surge aircraft have been chartered for individual tasks to transport troops.”

The A330 MRTT can be modified to carry up to 380 passengers in a single class configuration, allowing a complete range of configurations from maximised troop transport to complex customisation suitable for VIP and guest missions.

Available configurations include 300 passengers in a single class and 266 passengers in two classes. The A330 MRTT can also be configured to perform Medical Evacuation missions; up to 130 standard stretchers can be carried.

In 2015 it was announced that an RAF Voyager will be refitted to carry government ministers or members of the Royal Family for official visits. The refit is to cost £10 million but would save about £775,000 annually compared to the current practice of chartering flights. This aircraft will be fitted with 158 seats.


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Andy Shepherd
5 years ago

why refit one for vip’s ? cant they just fly in normal seats like every one else

5 years ago
Reply to  Andy Shepherd

I believe that some of the refit cost is for secure government comms so nothing to do with seating. I’ve also read somewhere that the seating is more akin to good flat-bed business class seating than billionaire private jet mult-room suites. I actually hope that last bit isn’t true and is downplaying the accomodation a bit. For the biggest VIPs, e.g. whomever happens to be Prime Minister at the time, I would consider £10m of my taxpayer money to be very well invested if it is spend on seating and beds that ensure that the PM arrives as rested as… Read more »

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago

This is very misleading and has to be read in the precise context of the question and answer. Note the answer referred to any of the 5 surge aircraft being returned to the military register – in effect for “combat” operational duties. So it’s not surprising little use has been made of the Surge aircraft given that the 9 on the mil reg are more than able to cope with the operational duties extant at present – AAR training, UK AD QRA, Cyprus/Syria, Falkands AAR QRA and AAR combat ac rangers to Ex Red Flag etc. What the parliamentary answer… Read more »

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago