An image of an A321 aircraft with a livery similar to that used on the Voyager aircraft used by the Royal Air Force to transport senior Government ministers and members of the Royal Family has surfaced online.
The A321 pictured below appears to be replacing the BAE146 aircraft in use for the role currently.
The freshly painted A321, apparently taking over the transport of senior officials and members of the Royal family from 32 Squadron, is operated by Titan Airways.
The PPrune forum has a photo of a Titan A321 in the U.K. govt transport livery.
Thanks to user ‘nt639’ pic.twitter.com/vmhSD8PGgz
— SPD travels (@SPD_travels) March 21, 2021
Compare this to the current ‘VIP Voyager’ used to transport senior officials.
Very similar, no?
It was confirmed last year that replacements for 32 (The Royal) Squadron BAE 146 aircraft were being considered.
Gareth Thomas, Member of Parliament for Harrow West, asked via a written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when the four BAe 146 aircraft based at RAF Northolt will be retired from service; when replacements for those aircraft will be procured; how many such replacements will be procured; how much funding from the public purse has been allocated to replacing those aircraft; and whether the RAF Voyager ZZ336 will be used for short haul trips previously undertaken by those aircraft.”
James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, responded:
“The current fleet of four BAe 146 aircraft are planned to be retired from Service on 31 March 2022. Replacements for those aircraft are currently under consideration as part of normal capability planning. The fleet of 14 Voyager will continue to support the collective Air Transport task including VIP and Command Support Air Transport tasking.”
Last year, we reported that the future of 32 (The Royal) Squadron was left in doubt when it was revealed that the RAF was looking to sell off its BAE 146 transport fleet. The aircraft primarily used to transport the Royal Family and other VIPs.
It was rumoured that the BAE 146 transport fleet will be replaced with “Global 5000 series aircraft or similar”. This appears to no longer be the case.
In June last year, the Royal Air Force described the VIP Voyager, otherwise known as ‘Vespina’ in the following way:
“The smart new paint scheme will promote the UK around the world while transporting Ministers, senior members of the Royal Family and their delegations on trade, diplomatic and other missions. After weeks of work, the Voyager returned to RAF Brize Norton where it will operate alongside the rest of the RAF Voyager fleet. Alongside its VIP Role, the aircraft remains certified for its original use, including Air-to-Air Refuelling and personnel transport. It can fly from and to almost any airport across the world that can take an Airbus A330, and its range allows it to reach much of the world without costly and time-consuming refuelling.”