A Voyager tanker has demonstrated what the Royal Air Force have referred to as “an oft forgotten capability” by carrying out an air to air refuelling training sortie with a C-130J Hercules.

According to this news release, the objective of the sortie was to provide training in the complex operational processes needed to refuel an aircraft in the air.

“The ability to do that is a key component of Royal Air Force flying operations. The Voyager is along with being a key element of strategic air transport for the RAF, it is also a duel role as the sole aerial refuelling aircraft meaning it is a true force-multiplier.

The concept of a force-multiplier means that as an aircraft the Voyager, has the capability to increase the combat potential of other aircraft by being able to refuel them when required.  This in-turn allows RAF combat jets, such as the Typhoon and F-35B, the ability to increase their time-on-task or range to conduct operations.”

The RAF also explained the utility of this activity.

“Air to Air Refuelling, also however allows larger RAF aircraft, such as such as the Atlas A400M and Hercules C130J, the ability to support humanitarian missions and airdrops in austere or difficult locations.  A recent example being when a RAF Hercules deployed to the Falkland Islands to conduct Exercise Austral Endurance.  

This exercise saw the Hercules conduct a number of sorties dropping supplies onto the Sky-Blu Field Station in the Antarctic. Without the Voyager, the Hercules would not have been able to reach Palmer Land, home of Sky-Blu and drop these vital supplies. Other examples were the enabling of C-130J humanitarian airdrops onto Mount Sinjar in 2014, and long-range parachute insertions into Eastern Europe that have been carried out over the last few years.”

You can read more here.

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Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago

It would be nice to think this inficates a desire to keep the C130 in RAF service for longer but I won’t go getting my hopes up.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago

There have been rumours of at least a pause.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago

Morning,

Yeh, given the recent reinstatement of the ISSGW program I’d say there may be a chance of a stay of execution for the C130J.

I just hope that who ever takes over as PM keeps Ben Wallace in post. Apart from anything else he seems to have some integrity and he does seem to be pretty good at his job – both are rare in today’s politicians sadly.

Cheers CR

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Agree. There are still posters moaning about Wallace but I myself think he’s been the best DS we have had in a long time.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
5 days ago

Morning Daniele 🙂 In view of your frequent, very good posts on defence matters I can forgive your mistaken opinion of Capt Mainwaring/Wallace. Apart from his refusal to take the difficult, but necessary decision to scrap Ajax and get the Army something that works, he has also failed to get more than one T45 destroyer through the PIP. On TV, he is prone to having nervous breakdowns. And most unfortunately, he frequently forgets his brief when questioned by the Select Committee on defence planning matters. Thank goodness he has been advised not to run for Leader I would go for… Read more »

johan
johan
5 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

The only issue i have with your comments is you are Blaming one person for the failure of a large organization. i will pull one. AJAX if the Ukgovs pull the plug, we have to pay in full. how many £Bs have You just lost the taxpayer. yet if They fail to deliver entire Budget is returned. Any Minister who has been sacked should not be allowed near a PM seat , untill they can prove they can do a job, Out of interest i would guess your ex Navy, Much like MR4A that was Scrapped due to the very… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
5 days ago
Reply to  johan

“Any Minister who has been sacked should not be allowed near a PM seat”

Bit of a sweeping statement, they don’t all get ‘sacked’ for being crap at their jobs, some get ‘sacked’ for not agreeing with whoever is the Big Cheese (or dog) at the time.

Even if they did cock up, people learn and usually more from their failures than their successes.

taffybadger
taffybadger
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

If they can’t produce a safe to operate AJAX, I am sure there is plenty of scope to SUE them! its already way late, there must be plenty of legal precedence to cancel without financial penalties on the MoD

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
4 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Wallace may not be a genius but he has:- – secured increased defence spending: can’t think of any other who has achieved that in 50 years? – made the defence acquisition program look realistic – forget Spreadsheet Phil that was a fudge – made some good tough decisions – service moral has improved on his watch as a result of above – clarity on the Ukrainian mission – trust of the Ukranians for telling it straight and delivering – hatred of the Russians for all of the above Like all of us who have ever done something ultra stressful: it… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago

– service moral has improved on his watch as a result of above”

Not sure who you’re talking to mate but the matelots (and one pongo) I talk to on a regular basis aren’t influenced by equipment purchases etc as much as they are by how many duties they have to keep or how big a dick their boss is. Normal stuff like everyone else. I accept that having Gucci gear does play a part but that’s not generally why people leave.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

The mood music of constant cuts never improved moral?

Being ‘needed’ and ‘valued’ are maybe good?

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago

I agree I think there is honesty to the man and I respect the fact he’s not making a power grab but instead focusing on his own brief. I’m betting he’s going to extract a fair amount of promises on defence before putting his weight behind a decent PM proposition.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Thanks for that David. 😉

OldSchool
OldSchool
4 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

‘Capt. Mainwaring’ …..a Guardian reader perhaps DL? They (the readers comments in HYS) were using that phrase for their usual character assassination of Wallace the other day. Their usual vindictive vileness says more about the Guardian readership than anything else imho.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago

The thing about Wallace is that he just gets on with the job. For example, the annoucement of the reinstatement of the ISSGW was very low key for such an important capability. There is nothing flashy about Wallace. I saw one woman being asked on the news if she voted for Boris and she said yes because he made her laugh..! The cabinet or parliament is not a place for show biz but try telling that to some people. Sadly, it means that professional people like Wallace aren’t rated because they work hard at getting results rather than entertaining people.… Read more »

johan
johan
5 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Fact is has a real life experience, yes he is a Silver Spoon Sandhurst Boy, but compared to the rest of the contenders who have never done a hard days work in there lives.

issue is none of the current group of ministers come out of this very well.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

To be far Javid’s dad was a bus driver and he’s made his way the hard way.

Paul.P
Paul.P
5 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Yeh, I’d have BW in my team every time, but not as leader.
Also agree about constitutional reform. Boris tested it to breaking point. Agree lighter elected Lords and if the PM leaves office the deputy take the helm and hold a general election within 6 months. There should be an English ( devolved) parliament, probably sitting somewhere nearer the centre of the country. Note that Jeffrey Donaldson sits both as an MP in Westminster and MLA in Stormont. We need to get ourselves sorted out before we start blaming the EU.

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

 There should be an English ( devolved) parliament, probably sitting somewhere nearer the centre of the country.”

Careful what you wish for Paul, I voted YES/YES back in 97 or whenever it was and regret it now and not just because its not ‘my lot’ that running things in Scotland. Its just another level of legislators who feel the need to justify their existence by bringing in more legislation. They don’t come cheap either…. Honestly mate, I’d do away with the Scottish Parlie if I could.

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Interesting observation, and point taken about layers. I think that the Scottish parliament and government would have worked satisfactorily had the SNP not been so successful in appropriating labour votes and associating England = Westminster = Tory. Nicola Sturgeon has become fanatical and woke. Once you become fanatical you’ve lost. In England and Wales the Tory party press have been extraordinarily successful in creating the idea that Labour = Communism. In fact labour and the SNP are I think philosophically quite close; they both believe that the common good and community should have a higher priority than the market and… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I get what you’re saying about the SNP (and it fits my personal prejudices) but with the benefit of hindsight, even when Labour were running things, it was all a bit of an expensive waste of time. Again with the benefit of hindsight there would always be scope for either Labour or the SNP to cause trouble when we have a UK Tory government (the opposite just isn’t an issue). I reckon I’m in a minority but as I said, I’d do away with it, better government, not more would be my preference but I accept I’ve dived into the… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

No more cynical than the rest of us. I think there is a problem with centralisation in London. The so called Westminster bubble. But more importantly there is a problem with nepotism. When we abolished the divine right of kings to rule it didn’t disappear…it passed seamlessly to the Tory party in England. The SNP is a reaction to that, which ironically suffers the same problem in spades – clanishness. Wales seems to be working. Labour is the majority but Plaid Cymru are well represented and there are a few Tories. You have a political mix but with a definite… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Agree with all of that CR, a start would be having an effective ‘set of rules’ for the bloody place but I can’t even see that happening never mind some of the stuff you’ve listed.

And yes, like yourself I cringe at some of the reasons people come out with for voting for Boris on the vox pop sections of the news. Same with the Starmer being boring stuff, its not the circus (well its not supposed to be) so why do people want a performing monkey to run the country. Rant over….. for now. 😉

DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an office under the Monarch, whose job was to monitor and punish MPs for corruption, brining the country into disrepute etc.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Completely agree we need to separate the voting for the executive and legislative functions. The checks and balances are not working correctly in this country anymore as people are not really understanding the complexity of what they are voting for and politicians are pushing the who personal mandate thing for all its worth.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
4 days ago

Wallace reminds me of Roy Mason. I doubt Wallace will survive. The economic situation will require defence cuts – always has – and I think Wallace would chose the exit rather than back down.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Barry, more defence cuts?! What else could possibly be cut? Which service would bear the brunt – or salami slicing for each service?

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

When has that ever stopped the Treasury Graham? (I hope I am wrong, but what are the odds?)

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
4 days ago

I think he’s the best DS we have had for years.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
4 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Quite.

That said some of the previous holders of that office, had zero interest or knowledge of defence!

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago

I would agree, he’s been a very good Defence Secretary, perhaps a good pm??

Whoever takes the hot seat, I hope they take the vague 2.5% promise ‘at some distant point in the future’ and start right now.

The extra billions would be a real shot in the arm and make a real difference. I would go as far as saying a rapid transformative effect on the armed forces, by accelerating current treasury mandated financially slowed projects and backfilling low spares and munitions holdings across the board.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
4 days ago

Defence secretary said he isn’t going to go for leader as he wants to concentrate on and do the job he has.
Maybe that’s political blurb but hopefully he stays.
Talk about big heads at the Tory party. Everyone thinks they are the best and should be PM.
I’m of the view that if you call for your leader to go you have to call an election. Points being that it may stop the constant turn over. Elections are mostly about the guy at the top and that is who people vote for (mostly)

Darren hall
Darren hall
4 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The training of the crews is normal, not unusual. If the C-130 does go, these crews will be transferred to other platforms where their training and knowledge will be utilised to enhance capabilities.

Talking to ”a source at Brize I won’t name” over the weekend. The crews are still hoping for a stay of execution… But as we all know, they will be the last to be informed….

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
2 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

CR,

Agree completely w/ your post; believe the RAF would be well advised to retain at least some C-130Js for awhile. Interesting development: a recent article stated AFSOC is experimenting w/ the addition of high-power lasers and cruise missiles to the Ghostrider fleet. Damn, beginning to feel my experience was from the Jurassic era…🤔🙄

Phylyp
Phylyp
4 days ago

That would be welcome news, Dan.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
4 days ago

I want to read that in to the article. Still another daft idea to get rid of a much needed asset. Fingers crossed.

Sooty
Sooty
4 days ago

One lives in hope!

Bulkhead
Bulkhead
5 days ago

Refuelling planes in the air, it must be me.

Steve M
Steve M
5 days ago

if only the Voyagers could be refuelled in air as well would give them much more long range offload capability! but that is back to the oft said requirement that we should have fitted booms to at least the KC3 aircraft and receptacle to ALL 14, then the KC3 could refuel RC-135/C-17/P-8/E-7 instead of just our fast jets and C-130/Atlas, we would also be able to refuel all US fastjets and heavies

The Big Man
The Big Man
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

As far as I am aware, all large A2A aircraft use their standard tanks to refuel and the A330 has large capacity hence it is one of the chosen types used. This is also why they are also used for cargo and personnel movements in addition to refuelling.
To increase the range of the asset by refuelling in air would therefore require a plane even bigger than the Voyager. This would negate the purpose as the Voyager refueller may as well take over from the Voyager.😎

Steve M
Steve M
5 days ago
Reply to  The Big Man

i know the voyager has large fuel 110Tons and they can just reach MPn directly (payload/wind allowing) but that is all the fuel used for themselves, they can only tank 1 (poss2) Typhoons from ASI to MPN an that would poss need either the MPN Voyager to fly out to provide last fuel for Typhoons and possibly another flying from ASi to do first Typhoon refuel. Used to take Tonkers to Distant Frontier, from YYR that needed 1xTristar KC1 & 2 x VC10 k3 (1 from Goose to do first and the 2nd flying from Edmonton) to trail 4 chicks.… Read more »

Steve M
Steve M
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Thats why i disagree with US claim about longest raid the B2’s might have been in the air longest fm Conus and back) but they had multiple tankers taking off from Europe and middle east airfields the Black Buck raids were all from single point round trip

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

To get 1 Vulcan plus a secondary to the Falklands required 11 Tankers, each refueling the next chain in the link and the same on the way back.

Steve M
Steve M
4 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

It was bit more complicated that lol, of the 11 that departed ASI 6 just refuelled other Victors then others refuelled the Vulcan then offloaded anything above what they needed to return to ASI to other Victors. It was amazing seeing it was planned on the back of fag packet not with all the computers they have now :-). We are unlikely to need to do that again but now we couldn’t even put on plan table as option

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

So did the Vulcans manage to fly from wideawake to stanle6 and back without multiple refuelling ?

Steve M
Steve M
2 hours ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Hell no, Vulcan B2 had range of about 2.5k it did 7 refuels from 5 Victors on way down and 1 on way back. in total there were 16 AAR half were Victors refuelling Victors https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Black_Buck#/media/File%3ARefuelling.plan.black.buck.svg

johan
johan
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Based on old Dirty un-efficent airframes its like saying your dad used to have to stop every 4 hrs to fill up his E-type yet today your mums car only needs fuel once a week. Modern efficient engines. A330s are the top of there league distant people movers, add that larger wing from the A340. its just a old concept, USAF doesnt fly tankers in a group.

Steve M
Steve M
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

I know they were gas guzzlers which is why Voyager can do without belly tanks. Tristars used to burn 14T ph and could carry about 140t with belly full but only about 20t payload. it also comes to airframe stress taking off constantly at MTOW puts lots of wear on wings/engines hence why USAF c-5’s take off with low fuel an tank as soon as the reach cruise from KC-10’s takes effort to lift payload and fuel to cruise. its also why our RC-135 takes off fm WAD and refuels from KC-135 of Norfolk before then flying to Black Sea… Read more »

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
4 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Potentially, another aircraft type in the future which could require boom refueling by allied aircraft–BUFFs. If Mad Vlad is deranged enough to detonate a tac nuke in Ukraine during this conflict, could practically guarantee USAF will increase alert status, possibly even resuming Airborne Alert (e.g., PCTAP, etc.). Even after installation of new RR engines, rhis would require massive tanker support on a sustained basis. Hypothetical scenario at present, but if it hits the fan, could prove to be an immediate high-priority issue.

johan
johan
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

No Need as none of the MRRTs have this capability, and even the Boeing Pegasus its seen as a non-requirement. Booms at the time of the order were being ripped of the RAAF at a alarming rate. well covered and documented its just a OLD mentality RAF have never operated Booms. so why now, and the only Aircraft that plugs into a boom regularly is the RC-135. C-17s dont need a fuel top up, P-8s is limited by its Crew time, as per E-7s

John N
John N
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

Booms were ripped off RAAF aircraft at an alarming rate? Seriously? Mate, that is a complete lie, completely false. Truth is that during testing in January 2011 by Airbus, prior to delivery to the RAAF, I’ll repeat that, ‘prior to delivery to the RAAF’ one boom did break off. Get your facts straight, hey? As far as ‘limited by crew time’, during operations over Iraq RAAF E-7A regularly flew 15 hour missions, and even a few 17 hour missions (additional flight crew were carried), the aircraft were boom refuelled multiple times by RAAF KC-30A during those missions too. Again, get… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by John N
Steve M
Steve M
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

Just because we had no requirement in the past doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be looked at. At the the time the PFI was areed we only had C-17’s which it was decided didn’t nned the capability everything Else large had probes. move forward 10 years and we have now brought into (or nearly) another 3 A?C types all of which are ‘off Shelf’ and have Boom refueling ability so now there is a requirement. Adding booms to the K3’s would give us the addtional capability ability and also bring us in line with the rest of NATO. If we used… Read more »

Clueless Observer
Clueless Observer
5 days ago

Fitting a boom system would be a relatively small investment for a huge capability improvement to the RAF and our allies!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago

Agreed, but I guess we should be grateful the capability wasn’t ‘gapped’ completely.

Cheers CR

johan
johan
5 days ago

ONLY ISSUE that statement is in-correct, White paper look at this and its a major Upgrade.
On Aircraft we dont own, and would require AT to retrain the crews

RAF Never Flown Booms. its not just sticking a pipe out the arse of a airframe, Ask Boeing and issues with Pegasus.

David Steeper
David Steeper
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

👍

John N
John N
5 days ago

Now if only the RAF Voyager fleet was equipped with a boom to be exactly the same configuration as the rest of the A330 MRTT/KC-30A global fleet, it would be an even better coalition partner.

Plus of course be able to perform AAR to it’s own aircraft that require boom refuelling.

johan
johan
5 days ago
Reply to  John N

Funny thing RAF never done it, so why does it need Booms ????? i never had a Lizard, but my cousin does. so does that mean i should have one same argument to a DUM QUESTION

John N
John N
4 days ago
Reply to  johan

Do you know how to spell? Clearly not.

It’s ‘dumb’ not ‘dum’, get a dictionary hey?

Just because the RAF hasn’t operated a boom equipped tanker previously doesn’t prevent it operating a tanker with multiple refuelling methods now.

Many other air forces operate aircraft with both capabilities, why not the RAF too?

Anyway, rational discussion with you is obviously ‘dumb’ and a waste of time too, hey?

David Steeper
David Steeper
4 days ago
Reply to  John N

Which sqd would you cut to pay for it ?

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  John N

In an ideal world John, the RAF would have all 14 A330’s in service, all, boom equipped to enable them to support our partners world wide and the RAF’s own small but important fleets.

Esteban
Esteban
4 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

RAF does not operate tankers. A private company does.. And it’s really not very handy that now they are refueling c130s when they are getting rid of them. But whatever….

Esteban
Esteban
4 days ago
Reply to  Esteban

Pretty much everyone else has had booms. And the real players since the ’50s.

RobW
RobW
4 days ago
Reply to  Esteban

Please list all these “real players”. If in your world the RAF isn’t one of them then I’d wager that the list consists of one nation.

Bob
Bob
4 days ago
Reply to  RobW

The US navy doesn’t use booms…….

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Esteban

Who are the real players? I believe there are 195 countries in the world.

Looking forward to seeing your list.

Airborne
Airborne
3 days ago
Reply to  Esteban

Yaaaaaaaawn boring to the extreme!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Esteban

They’re not getting rid of the crews, and it’s good training regardless if the type is cut.

And the RAF do operate them, as they crew them and plan the mission, regardless of whether Air Tanker own them and carry out maintenance.

Airborne
Airborne
3 days ago
Reply to  Esteban

Why the large chip on your shoulder? Why so sad and angry at the same time? I can see your lips blubbering from here…..there there it’s ok, you can buy a uniform of eBay and pretend you made it into whatever second rate military operates in your country of origin! It’s ok, many have failed, it’s ok, such it up, realise you weren’t up to standard and move on!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 days ago

I don’t know the ins and outs of the Voyager PFI contract (feel free to educate me). But it seems ludicrous that we are not using the A400m / C130J as additional tankers, many countries use the later to extend the range of heavy helicopters but we don’t. As an aside regarding Ben Wallace I just think he is either a very shrewd Politician or someone who genuinely doesn’t want the top job and wants to do the best he can. If it is the latter then he is probably fairly unique as a Politician so let him continue because… Read more »