The RAF's largest ever aircraft, Voyager Photo: EPA
16 Jul 2011THE TELEGRAPH
Voyager, the RAF's largest aircraft, is officially named at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
The RAF's largest ever aircraft was officially named Voyager at a ceremony attended by the Defence Secretary.
The aircraft flew into RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire for its first public appearance at this weekend's Royal International Air Tattoo.
The dual role air-to-air tanker and transport plane has a 60-metre wingspan and is nearly 60 metres long.
Voyager, which is able to carry almost 300 troops more than 6,000 miles, will replace the long-serving VC-10 and Tristar.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who attended Friday's naming ceremony, said: "I am delighted to see the new Royal Air Force Voyager aircraft formally presented to the public.
"This magnificent aircraft is the future for the RAF's air-to-air refuelling and passenger transport capability for the coming decades."
The RAF has bought 14 of the aircraft under a 27-year £10.5 billion private finance initiative contract with the AirTanker consortium.
The service will provide training and maintenance, and new purpose-built buildings at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
The plane can carry out air-to-air refuelling of another aircraft with 100,000 litres of fuel - greater than two large petrol tankers.
The Ministry of Defence added that it can refuel aircraft at a rate of 5,000 litres per minute compared with a garage forecourt petrol pump that delivers fuel at 40 litres per minute.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said: "As we have seen in Afghanistan and Libya, an effective air-to-air refuelling and transport fleet is an essential force multiplier in this era of expeditionary warfare.
"Voyager, when it enters service later this year, will excel in these roles by not only increasing our air-to-air refuelling capability but also by substantially improving our strategic airlift capacity...
"We can be justifiably proud of this magnificent addition to the RAF's fleet; it will serve our Armed Forces well for many years to come."
The Royal International Air Tattoo is the world's largest air show and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.