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Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne met with members of the crew who had flown the Voyager from its base at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
At almost 200 feet long, with an equally wide wingspan, the Voyager is the biggest aircraft in the RAF’s fleet. Since December, it’s been playing a key role in the operational airbridge that transports personnel and equipment between the UK and Afghanistan.
As well as carrying people and cargo, Voyager also has an air-to-air refuelling capability. On a typical deployment across the Atlantic, the aircraft is able to refuel 4 fast jets whilst carrying up to 5 tonnes of freight or passengers.
Mr Dunne also met with staff from AirTanker Limited who are providing Voyager as part of a 27-year private finance initiative contract worth £10.5 billion. He said:
Voyager is the largest aircraft the RAF has ever operated, and its greatest strength is its versatility. It has already proven its value by supporting operations in Afghanistan, providing a modern, efficient and dependable service that has been praised by the RAF and its passengers.
Delivering the Voyager aircraft on time is a major achievement and an effective demonstration that MOD procurement is not only under control, but also delivering timely and world-class results for the taxpayer, industry and the armed forces.
Bernard Gray, MOD’s Chief of Defence Materiel, said:
Delivery of this groundbreaking private finance initiative programme on schedule is a significant moment for Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the RAF. Earlier this month DE&S announced delivery of the first 3 Chinook Mk6 helicopters to the RAF, also on schedule.
These events provide evidence that DE&S is becoming a higher-performing delivery organisation, better able to deliver vital equipment and support to the armed forces on time.