"Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying." - Neil Armstrong
RAF "Vespina" ready for Global Role
Written by Ivo Gračanin.
The RAF Voyager “Vespina” has completed its refurbishment to provide a secure and suitably profiled transport for Government Ministers and the Royal Family. The aircraft now proudly displays the Union Flag alongside RAF markings and is ready to represent the UK across the globe.
Following the arrival of the RAF VIP Voyager at its base at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, post the completion of its new paint scheme, it returned to its primary role supporting operational training acting as a ‘petrol station in the sky’ offering Air-to-Air refuelling (AAR) to RAF Lightning and Typhoon fighters taking part in Exercise CRIMSON OCEAN.
The Voyager is a hugely capable tanker, able to carry up to 111 tonnes of fuel, with the ability to dispense 50,000 kg of fuel to a broad range of aircraft during a four-hour loitering mission at over 1,000 nm from its take-off point.
The aircraft is in service as the Voyager KC.Mk 2, equipped with two underwing pods for refuelling fast jets, and as the Voyager KC.Mk 3, with an additional centreline hose for use by large aircraft.
Fuel offloaded during AAR is taken from the aircraft’s standard wing and fuselage tanks, leaving the cabin free for up to 291 personnel and the hold available for freight. As a tanker, capabilities include the ability to operate a ‘towline’, where the Voyager orbits around a prescribed area awaiting ‘receivers’, or in a ‘trail’, where it flies with a number of fast jets, refuelling them over long ranges while taking responsibility for the formation’s fuel and navigation.
Airbus Defence and Space Voyager
Powerplant: two 71,100lb st (316kN) Rolls-Royce Trent 772B turbofans
Length: 192ft 11¾in (58.82m)
Height: 57ft ½in (17.39m)
Wingspan: 197ft 10in (60.30m)
Wing area: 3,892.20sqft (361.60m2)
Maximum speed: around Mach 0.86
Typical mission range: capable of delivering around 132,000lb (60,000kg) of fuel during five hours on station at 500nm (930km) from base
Range with maximum payload: 4,500nm (8,334km)
Maximum range with maximum fuel: 8,000nm (14,816km)