Tempus Applied Solutions have announced the acquisition of six Lockheed L-1011s Tristar jets formerly owned and operated by the Royal Air Force.

Four of these aircraft are specifically configured for air-to-air refuelling operations and the remaining two are configured for passenger and cargo operations only.

Although the aircraft served the RAF and NATO for 30 years until their retirement in 2014, the aircraft have many years of service life remaining. The L-1011s have been in flyable storage in the UK since their retirement.

The company say that the closing of the acquisition will take place ‘following satisfactory inspection of the aircraft and associated log books and support equipment.’

The company intends to utilise three of the AAR configured aircraft while the additional three aircraft will be used as spare parts. The company said in a statement to the press:

“Marketing of the aircraft for contractor owned/operated AAR operations will begin immediately with a focus on the US Navy, NATO, and other allied air forces which require hose and drogue AAR services.
The aircraft are currently registered in the United States and will be ferried from the UK to an existing TAS base of operations in the continental USA upon acceptance and the completion of required maintenance.”

Company CEO Scott Terry stated:

“We are very encouraged to have found a potential solution for the shortage of AAR services that currently exist within the US Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation and many NATO/Allied air forces.

We will perform the necessary inspections and evaluations over the next several weeks in order that the transaction can close as soon as possible.”


  1. …. and all because Boeing have still to deliver a fully working operational KC-46 Pegasus tanker 9 years into its contract let alone the 18 it was contracted to deliver in 2017. Maybe late 2018? The programme is $1.9 Bn over budget (to date) but true to form the USAF have been told to scrap the larger ‘KC-Y’ programme and ‘bridge’ the KC-46 ‘with modifications’. Boeing’s Senators at work again

    The A330 MRTT would have creamed the Boeing in THAT competition given its higher fuel payload (111 Tonnes vs 96 Tonnes) and proven service history just as it beat it in the ‘KC-X’ competition in 2008. Still as long as Boeing shareholders get their pay off.

  2. Boeing shareholders have incurred a total penalties of $1.9 billion for this project.

    Also the A330 is incapable of refuelling the MV-22 Osprey, whilst the kc46 is able to do so.

    • The Osprey uses a probe and drogue system for refuelling as do other US Navy and RAF aircraft. The A330 in RAF guise deploys hoses and drogues. Perhaps you can explain how an A330 cannot refuel the Osprey but it can be refuelled from the KC46. I note that hose and drogue C130s regularly refuel Ospreys

    • mikesaul – If you think Boeing will carry that $1.9 Bn over run you don’t understand how the USA does its military business. They will not lose out. As witnessed by the simple fact Boeing have been gifted what was to be the larger ‘KC-Y’ tanker contract without even bidding. They will just do some creative accounting like they have with the 787 …

      Now to your quite extraordinary idea that the A330 MRTT cannot refuel the Osprey. Like all US Navy (and USMC) aircraft they use the same Drogue type refuelling system as the RAF and FAA and how the current RAF Voyagers are configured. They cannot as built refuel USAF aircraft as they use the boom system. However that can be retro fitted and the similar RAAF A330s are so equipped.

      This is what I mean:

      • “Japan selected the kc46 as it’s future tanker on the basis that it could refuel mv22 and that the a330 could not.”

        The source is flight global, if you consider that to be extraordinary then you should contact flight global and tell them they are wrong.

        Regards the financial penalty, again if you consider this to be non event then contact the US Congress and inform them of of your information.

        • Mike – Well maybe you quoted them out of context I don’t know. But you should have also mentioned from that article:
          “Airbus immediately declined to participate when Japan issued its tanker request for proposals in September, saying the notice was clearly intended for the Boeing KC-46”


          If this is the article it doesn’t actually say the A330 can NOT refuel the Osprey it says:
          “According to Boeing, KC-46 is particularly attractive to Japan as it will be capable of refuelling the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s planned fleet of Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey helicopters”

          And maybe the JDF are also aware that Boeing buys substantial parts of its wings, fuselages and landing gears for 767 (sic), 777 and 787 aircraft from Kawasaki, Mitsubishi and Subaru? Just saying …

          But that video clearly shows an Osprey using Drogue refuelling (actually from a C-130) which RAF Voyagers and KC-46 deploy. They are even made by the same company – Cobham (or its US company). And maybe the JDF went for the KC-46 because they just extended the earlier version KC-767 contract? This was a red herring thrown up by Boeing from way back and was killed years ago. Have a read from Reuters from 2008:


          Either way the JDF order is the only non US success for the Boeing tanker while the A330 has been ordered by 9 Air Forces (OK two are France and the UK which have a vested interest).

          As for the cost overruns I never said it was a ‘non-event’. I said that the US Government and Boeing will ‘make arrangements’ as they always do. Its called ‘Protectionism’. After all the US Government got what it wished for by removing the better and already flying A330 and gifting the contract to Boeing for a non-flying CGI so you think politicians will make Boeing pay for their decisions? And that example I gave of the US Government ‘gifting’ the larger ‘KC-Y’ contract to Boeing without a Tender process sort of proves my point. Robbing the ‘KC-Y’ Peter to pay the ‘KC-X’ Paul. And ask Cobham about how Boeing lays off any costs to suppliers. This debacle has already cost Cobham over £150 Mn. Its no ‘non-event’ to them.

          • When you don’t like the facts, just say the comments were quoted out of context.

            The facts stand, it’s up to you to accept them or not

          • Mike – Oh I like facts its just sadly you didn’t supply any. I was trying to be polite and keep the conversation to the facts. I could have easily said you were lying given I quoted from that same article.

            You made a statement that the A330 ‘incapable of’ refuelling an Osprey. I showed you video of an Osprey refuelling using the same Drogue system as used on an A330. So it IS capable.

            You then used Flight Global to support your statement. So I quoted from that same article pointing out it did NOT actually say as you quoted. Hence the polite ‘You may have quoted out of context’. I also gave some industrial context to the JDF decision to buy the KC-46

            I accept the facts as presented by Flight Global and visual presentation. Its just they aren’t as presented by your good self.

          • You sir are truly ignorant of USAF programs. It had been suggested years in advance that the KC-X and KC-Y programs would be merged. This due to both budget constraints and the ease of getting approval through the ECP (engineering change proposal) process. The A330 was also by EADS North America over priced quote “Boeing’s bid was very, very, very aggressive and has high risk of losing money.” Corporate speak for “My product is not worth what we are charging. But I will be damned if I’M the one who admits the to higher.”
            On a further note the “assembly of the A330 in Mobile, Alabama, with parts coming from all over the world” which was their bid. Would have gone over about as well as just walking into the Armed Services committee and saying “outsourcing good, screw your constituents”.
            Airbus would only have had one assembly plant in America essentially bolting and welding kits. This put them in direct opposition to half a dozen labor unions, the America Firster’s, and the Senate and House delegations of- Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, and last but not least sunny California.
            None of this is insurmountable but it better be cheap and it better be by a very large margin better. But the last foreign designed aircraft to get procured an be successful was the Harrier II. And that was because Hawker and it’s successor BAE were smart enough to partner with McDonnell Douglas to not only assemble but build it in the U.S.

  3. The fact that the Tristars were replaced in RAF service before their life was used up is an indication of how much of defence spending is for the benefit of the manufacturers and not the armed forces.

    • I don’t really agree here as unless you want the MOD to run aircraft until they literally start falling out of the sky there’s always going to be some service life left when a replacement arrives and that’s before you start thinking about the cost savings new platforms give through more efficiency and lower maintenance costs.
      Aircraft design and engines have come a long way in the last 30 years.

    • Tell that to all the guys who were delayed for thier rnr flights from Afghanistan / Iraq back to the UK because of broken down Tristars subsequently losing vaulable time with their families. I love the Tristar but its time was up im afraid. The fact that the company intending to aquire these airframes will use 3 of them for spare parts tells its own story. The KC-30 could not arrive soon enough.

  4. its a mix of all three : Politics , industry and military demand : most military aircraft are retired not because they have reached the airframes end of service life but because they no longer fulfill the mission profile required . As numbers of a type in service dwindle spare parts are becoming hard to find and expensive to procure for such an inflexible organization as a military. The average hours on the Luftwaffe C-160 when retired is 15.000 , the German Navy retired some Breuget Atlantic with less than 5.000 hours on the airframe.

  5. The US bought the KC46 to help Boeing recover some of the development cost of the 787 which almost bankrupted Boeing. It is how the military industrial complex works in the state’. Major defence projects are always funded on cost plus arrangement’. If Boeing made money on say a new fighter it would use the profits to fund a new airliner. Nothing Boeing does costs Boeing anything, the in their pocket politicians make sure of that.


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