A Voyager KC2 Tanker was recently spotted on an Operation Shader mission, South West of Kirkuk, Iraq.

The aircraft was providing air to air refuelling for Typhoon jets on armed reconnaissance patrols in the country.

While this is a common occurrence, it’s not commonly reported. Much attention is paid to the Typhoon jets themselves but it’s important to remember the assets that enable their operation so far from home.

The Open Source Intelligence Twitter account SkyWatcher Intel often follows such flights in the region, if you don’t follow them then I’d suggest you go do that now if you’d like to see what’s going on as it goes on.

Royal Air Force aircraft have been able to continue regular armed reconnaissance missions to support the enduring work of the Iraqi security forces to prevent any resurgence of the Daesh terrorist movement within their country.

Voyager, the RAF designation for the Airbus A330 MRTT, began air-to-air refuelling flights and made its first operational tanker flight in May 2013.

The UK operates a total of 14 Voyager aircraft, 5 of which are leased for commercial purposes when not required.

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Sceptical Richard

Good old Nos 10 & 101 squadrons. Go boys and girls!

John Hartley

What happened to those proposed saddle tanks for Typhoon? I thought batch 3 was going to get them. It would reduce the need for tanker support.

Sceptical Richard

Unless you increase the MTOW of the aircraft, adding saddle tanks does not give you anything extra except perhaps free up some extra stores stations under the wings. But you wont be able to carry anything significant under them, again because of the weight problem. You either carry more fuel and fewer weapons, or more weapons and less fuel. But you can’t do both unless you redesign (or re-certify) the aircraft to increase its MTOW. Also, saddle tanks will probably increase aircraft drag and alter its handling characteristics. AAR is done by the most advanced air forces precisely because it’s… Read more »