The Voyager transport aircraft, tasked with flying senior ministers to global events and summits, will be repainted at a cost of £900,000.

The Voyager aircraft in question had been been refitted at a cost of about £10m in 2016, in order to save about £775,000 per year as a dedicated aircraft is typically cheaper than chartering flights.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said of the decision to repaint the jet from its standard grey:

“The £900,000 cost incorporates the cost of creating a design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role. Voyager can better represent the UK around the world with national branding. All of the work has been done in the UK.”

Is it something that we should worry about though? To be honest, no, not it is not. More on that here, trust me, you’ll want to read this as it explains the situation far better than I can.

The aircraft is used by the Prime Minister, other ministers and senior members of the Royal Family for official engagements.

Official flights using either Royal Squadron planes or long haul charter, cost on average £6,700 per flying hour while using a Voyager aircraft would cost £2,000. It would be available for refuelling when it wasn’t in use.

The Airbus A330 Voyager is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft with transport capabilities and is based on the civilian Airbus A330. The multi-role A330 tanker/transport has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.

A spokesman for the Royal Air Force said: “An RAF Voyager is currently in Cambridgeshire for pre-planned works.”

According to Sky News here, Mr Johnson as foreign secretary in 2018 said he would like a “Brexit plane” to help him travel the world. Sky report that Mr Johnson said spending money on a new aircraft, which would promote the government’s vision of global Britain, would be justified if costs were not “exorbitant”.

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Excellent news and good for the UK’s image. Stand by for the nay sayers…

Think they have overdone the red a bit though!


BorisAir One!

john melling

The impressionist should have put a bit more union flag at the front
and as for the blue doors, keep red or mixed in the union flag ;P

Its good news and needed as it’s got an essential role.

Nigel Collins

The blue doors look naff, almost as if they have not received a topcoat. All for promoting the UK abroad!

Nigel Collins

Change the gold to red and add the flag on the tail.
comment image


Thats a nice elegant design concept, possibly with the addition of the Royal Court of Arms over the cockpit. I wonder if they will take a part of the communications suite from Sentry or Sentinal and install it basically converting it into a UK1 aircarft.

Nigel Collins

No doubt a possibility?

John Clark

It doesn’t seem very inclusive, can’t we have a rainbow flag on one side and depictions of Statues being felled by the baying mob on the other?

The Woke set have kindly ‘decided’ for us what’s acceptable after all, so may as well let them loose with the paintbrushes too on this highly visible asset…

We can’t call it our Airforce One either, it will have to be called “Non Binary One” and referred to as “They”.


Frankly, you comment is closer to the truth than a joke. Well said.

Barry Larking

“So, what you are saying is we’re all lobster coloured?”


Sorry. As a naysayer I disagree. That money could be spent on new kit or extending the life of tbe HS146 make, for instance.


Or putting booms on the aircraft so it can actually refuel our air assets!

But we can’t have Boris not feeling like a king can we…


I think a white body with a similar union tail would be more classy.

Geoffrey Roach

Fly the flag..worth every penny. The United Kingdom must not sit back after Corvid. We must get out there and yell at the world….”we’re back.


Yep we are back and better than ever… We are really sticking it to China… Just about to do a trade deal with New Zealand that actually makes us worse off and of course our government is making policies that are forcing jobs to be sent abroad… We are a force to be reckoned with!

John Clark

Lee, it’s absolutely correct that Britain properly reconnects with countries like New Zealand.

They are one of our oldest and most loyal allies, despite the fact that we stabbed them in the back during our 40 year EU diversion….

Let’s not forget, New Zealand offered a frigate to support the Task Force in Falklands campaign…

Andy P

Not arguing against closer ties to NZ but I don’t follow your logic for it. Certainly now, if we had another Falklands, do you think NZ would be offering a frigate ?

Geoffrey Roach


John Clark

Seconded, I don’t think they would hesitate, even with a left wing government.

I was ashamed at the way Britain treated the commonwealth, in our head long dive to learn Esperanto!

I’ll take trade deals and close working ties with our steadfast Antipodean brothers and sisters any day of the week, than that pit of vipers, known as the EU.


Negotiations launched on Wednesday with NZ, exports expected to rise from 3.8% to over 7.5% to NZ from the UK. Imports from NZ to uk be freed of crippling EU tariffs especially on food.

But the article still states with zero evidence the deal is not beneficial to the uk, despite no details of a deal actually being agreed?

No surprise really from a left biased newspaper.

Wait for facts as opposed to believing politically influenced bumf online.

John Clark

But surely James, the lefty, British bashing Indipendant and Guardian wouldn’t lie to us


Maybe all the extra money from NZ trade is being splashed on this? Surely its cheaper just to do a snazzy background on Zoom?!

Geoffrey Roach

So, Lee ..start a war with China, stuff New Zealand and why is the government Forcing jobs abroad? To gain popularity?

barry white

Wow thats a lot of money for a paint job
I think when this becomes widely known and the dreaded MSM get hold of it there will be hell on


They should spend some of that money on a new design. Those blue doors on a red background look like something from Web 1.0. Maybe it’s the same guy.


I hope it looks nothing like that. Looks like a cross between Royal Mail and Virgin Atlantic.
Not necessarily money well spent in my opinion though – 900k for a bit of PR. Who will notice it – planespotters!


And adversary air defence fighters when it’s pressed in to tanker service in WWIII.


I’m 100% sure the government won’t pick George’s plane paint design lol


But it makes the point of a british looking jet.


Perhaps bits of the wings and engines are British, the rest isn’t.

Harry Bulpit

God that is one ugly scheme. I don’t mind a repaint if need be. But at least something smart. Perhaps the transport scheme of 60s and 70s.

Nick C

I agree 100%, it looks like something thought up by a 7 year old, as was said by crab fat earlier on they have really over done the red. I was in Buenos Aires in December 2018, and we flew into the airport during the G20 summit. Grandiose executive jumbos in all directions, Air Force One parked on its own, the Turkish President with a 747, three Russian aircraft so that you didn’t know which one to shoot at, Saudis with two aircraft, the second for the staff. In the middle of it, the UK’ s Voyager. Grey, slightly sinister,… Read more »


Come on Nick,the graphic was made by the author of the article!

Though I do agree: I hope the colour scheme is a little more tasteful.

Nick C

If it was done by George A I think we can all agree that he probably didn’t take Art when he took his Highers!!!



Harry Bulpit

Indeed. Hopefully if the rumoured purchase of the Global Express goes ahead as the 146 replacement. It will remove a large deal of demand on the voyager.


I agree – I’ve always liked the grey Voyager – low key, military and serious looking.

Robert Blay

come on guy’s, it isnt going to look like the above graphic, it’ll probably just be a design on the tail and rudder area, and maybe a nice go faster stripe or something ?‍♂️

Glass Half Full

I think people need to read articles more closely. The illustrated colour scheme is the work of and I quote “Terrible Defence Journal Impression(ists?)” per bottom right of picture. Best stick to the day job George 😉


I’ve come back on line after three hours and just realised it’s George’s version of the possible paint job! Duh! Wake up Crabfat…

Glass Half Full

🙂 “The UK – Red-dy to Trade with the World.”


Good for the Brits! Show the flag around the world. Another sign that they’ve dumped those Socialist EU cronies.

Daniele Mandelli

Excellent. Hope the nay sayers in the usual quarters are choking on their cornflakes that the nation dare try to show itself in the shop window. And…..yes, a quick look on the net at the Guardian has someone on Labours front bench and also the SNP moaning. The Labour front bencher is saying families across the land are worried about their incomes and jobs at a time like this with Covid and families will question such an outlay. Yes dear, but a bit rich, considering the pulling down of historical statues seems to be Labours focus at the moment judging… Read more »


Gotta be honest, this is unbelievable, it can only happen here. When using the aircraft Boris Johnson asked why it was painted grey? The fact it’s a warplane might have something to do with it????
If you are going to create Boris 1, buy a separate aircraft and paint it whatever colour you want, but leave our warplanes painted in the scheme best suited to their role.


I’ll be honest, I don’t think a BVR missile cares whether an aircraft is painted grey or fluorescent orange.


No problem if Boris wants to fly the flag; goodness knows we need some that these days!! – just tell me the money isn’t coming from the already overstretched defence budget???

Andy P

Guess I’m a bit counter culture on here then, it just seems like an indulgence to me. What happens if that aircraft is broken and he ends up in a grey one. At some point its going to end up getting painted again either in grey or in our new ‘Dear Leader’s’ colour scheme. I’m not against it in principle and I’m not going to suggest the money could be used to feed kids, I just don’t see the need, its all just seems a bit ‘gaudy’. The aircraft is supposed to be used as part of our tanker/transport fleet,… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Its a bit funny how we seem to get so worked about stuff like this in the UK. I guess a grey plane is consistent with a sackcloth and ashes colour scheme though, because we mustn’t get above ourselves. The French and Germans seem to literally have airforces in bespoke colour schemes more or less devoted to transporting their government officials around, while the UK is already saving money by using an air tanker with modest upgrades. The Germans in particular have 2x A340s that are about to be replaced with 3x A350s. Promoting the UK for trade and soft… Read more »


An aircraft designed to be a flag flier is fine, but not at the expense of one of the very few tankers we have, which is as you state ‘ obviously a Military plane, purchased to be used for Military purposes.

The Big Man

Not all the tankers are used anyway, some are chartered out to civilian transport so this is really not an issue. If push came to shove the paint may well be a plastic film enabling the p[lane to go grey pretty quickly (only a guess).
The cost seems high though, I thought I read planes of this size cost around £200k to paint, so maybe it is plastic film.
The idea is spot on though, we need to let the world know we are here at every opportunity. It is all about being front of mind.

Andy P

There’s an easy counter argument to your logic “….. and if the French and Germans jumped off a cliff….” Personally (so hardly scientific) I’m not convinced some guy is going to see the British government jet (that’s how it will be perceived, as some sort of UK ONE) and think to himself that he needs to go and buy some British stuff. If BoJo wants ‘his’ jet then I’d rather the cash came from elsewhere than the defence budget. You could argue the same for the poor squaddies having to stand around London in big hats….. but that’s a whole… Read more »

Glass Half Full

France and Germany are just two relatable examples, there are plenty of other nations using a national livery. If you’re fond of that counter argument then be prepared to post it a lot on this site when people compare the number of UK military assets versus other countries. Sure a painted plane isn’t on its own likely to change perceptions, its just a component, a tool, one of many, that might be used to subtly influence. Foreign aid, including using the UK Aid logo is another. Diplomatic reach is another. You focused on trade but ignored soft power. The latter… Read more »

Andy P

Glass Half Full, “If you’re fond of that counter argument then be prepared to post it a lot on this site when people compare the number of UK military assets versus other countries.” My fear is that it would cease to be a realistic military asset. This would lead to spending more on the ‘leasing’ ones, ultimately costing or losing money out of the defence budget. As for one of the other forum ‘hot potatoes’ of foreign aid, I thought the general consensus on here was that it was a waste and should be tossed into other budgets (one I… Read more »

Glass Half Full

I guess its agree to disagree then Andy. World would be a boring place if we all agreed. BTW I wasn’t accusing you of being unaware of soft power, only that you didn’t factor it in when countering my position. Sorry about the dot joining, used to be my value add during my career but hey ho. Personally I hope advertising the UK and what it stands for does continue, regardless of person or party. Too much self denigration of the UK in general IMO, no need to go too far in the other direction mind. Becoming a high value… Read more »

Andy P

No worries GHF and I agree, there’s nothing wrong with different opinions, its easy for things to get misunderstood on a forum. Whatever happens, you can pretty much say that whatever we discuss on here will have zero bearing on what actually happens, we’re just a bunch of dafties tossing it back and forth.

Have a good night mate.


Just one point please. Despite what some say, it is perfectly permissible to use the term Union Jack for the flag on land,sea and in the air. The idea that it has to be Union Flag for land is incorrect. When we were kids no one but a few pedants called it the Union Flag-it was always our Union Jack! Throughout the world people overseas call it the Union Jack-no one says Union Flag. this term has been popularised in recent years by a few journalists who delight in telling you”Seriously Peasants! You can only call it Jack when flying… Read more »


ps And-no offence George. It’s just that Flags are a passion of mine.


Hopefully the money is coming out of the Overseas Development budget and not out of the MoD’s pocket. Don’t think it’s a bad idea just make sure the right people have to pay the price for it.


i think it,s a great idea however that paint scheme is rather naff to be honest,the whole fuselage should have been done to represent the union flag not just red with daft blue doors


Is that a serious comment? you realise that was just a Paint Shop Pro job done by George right?


£900k to paint a plane seems like someone is quids in. Surely it could be done for a fraction of that price.

Seems to be another example of wasted tax payer money to me in a period where more money is needed to help people impacted by Covid.

Nick C

There is a very good analysis by “Sir Humphrey” on the Thin Pinstriped Blog, he is suggesting that the plane may well have been coming up for a repaint and service anyway, so much of the cost will be covered by the routine maintenance budget. And I standing terms it is such a small amount it is very unlikely to have got anywhere near Bojo’s desk.

Nick C

Sorry, should have read and in procurement terms… Must read before posting!

Steve R

I agree in principle, but £900,000 though… wincing at the thought of it. Seems a hell of a lot for a paintjob.

I find that hard to justify coming out of the defence budget when it’s already so stretched.

What goes into that to make it so expensive?

Alabama boy

As Voyager is maintained to civil standards all the associated drawings for this one aircraft will have to be changed and reflected into the relevant maintenance documents . This has to done by Airbus as the planes’ manufacturer who maintain the master database for the Type. This is not a trivial task.


Why not just buy a dam plane there’s plenty going about today! A we have a limited number of tankers, however it would be cool if two jets could fly with the tanker for protection if needed and be refueled at same time.


Yeh, buy a bloody great A380 from British Airways on the cheap – it’ll even have the Union Jack / Flag painted on the tail 🙂

Cheers CR

Daniele Mandelli

In all seriousness, I hope the eventual result has plenty of white as a base colour all over with red and blue highlights here and there that stand out nicely. Maybe Union Jack doors, tail, and both sides of the fuselage.

Noted that the image is a poor impression, but my first thought was the same as julian1’s.
Royal Mail.

Gunbuster has made detailed analysis of paints used by the RN. Why would this be so expensive for an aircraft? Or is it?


Given how many of the comments have been about the aesthetics of the artists’s (George’s) impression shown in this article I’m wondering if that £900,000 also includes some outrageous fee for a design agency to come up with the actual graphic/colour scheme for the paint job i.e. the details of exactly how to “interpret the Union flag within the context of an aircraft” (as a designer would probably phrase it, or something similar). Having been involved in some corporate branding projects during my time (as the client rather than the design/advertising agency) I can easily imagine that £900,000 being £890,000… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

A thorough analysis as usual Julian!

So, someone has made a killing for very little. As usual. They could have come to me! I’m cheap!


I can’t see it damaging the military role, i suspect a coat of gray paint won’t cost much.

Andy P

We do seem to have a lot of Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s on the forum, heaven forbid we get round to designing uniforms to unleash our ‘inner Gok’.

Daniele Mandelli

I’m an artist mate, not an interior designer! Whatever happened to him anyway?


Aircraft paints have to deal with extremely high temperatures due to friction on the skin of the aircraft at high speeds. They found that out the hard way when someone painted a Concorde Pepsi Blue and the thing almost melted(Not really).

Jason Holmes

Get another 10 and we have the red arrows replacement !


Let’s suspend, for a moment, the arguments about the cost of the paint job, or the impression that it’s going to be BoJo’s private plane. Two things come to mind, here. First, as far as I can ascertain, the announcement came out without any supporting information. Thus, everyone jumps to conclusions, and speculation/condemnation runs riot. Once again, the government has unnecessarily shot itself in the foot. They are good at this. Second, the trouble is always a lack of transparency about these things. Whatever’s being spent, the important issue is that it’s PUBLIC money and this should mean immediate transparency… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Excellent observations.


Well that’s tasteful isn’t it if remotely accurate, though I suspect it’s someone with no design sense let loose on a cheap paint program … Or worse still Dominic Raab. With some of the greatest creative talent in the World in this Country equipped to be promoted on the World stage, let’s hope the real thing employs some of them to do the job rather than putting red paint on the Number 10 cat’s paws and shaking a box of dry food.


Sorry to say I’m going to be a nay sayer here. Watch the pennies save the pounds guys…..that’s a million quids worth of vanity. I think it’s RAF coat is fine. It’s [email protected]&k politician vanity….won’t the voters like me when I get of a big plane with the union flag all over it. Every time I spend taxpayers money I always think, what will this get me that really means something….as I work for the NHS I always think how many staff nurses is this costing me…. that little project would pay for 25 lovely young people to qualify as… Read more »

Barry Larking

Good. Just now that is what many I suspect wish to see and hear – faith in our country, its history, traditions and customs.


Omg it looks like a London bus molded into a plane with blue doors