Vespina
RAF Vespina. (Crown Copyright)

The RAF Voyager ‘Vespina’ has completed its refurbishment to provide a secure, cost-effective and suitably profiled transport for Government Ministers and the Royal Family.

The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft now displays the Union Flag alongside RAF markings and is ready to represent the UK across the globe.

The new paint scheme will promote the UK around the world while transporting Ministers, senior members of the Royal Family and their delegations on trade, diplomatic and other missions.

The RAF Voyager ‘Vespina’

After weeks of work, the Voyager KC.3 returned to RAF Brize Norton on 25 June where it will operate alongside the rest of the nine-strong RAF Voyager fleet. Alongside its VIP Role, the aircraft remains certified for its original use, including air-to-air refuelling and personnel transport. It can fly from and to almost any airport across the world that can take an Airbus A330, and its range allows it to reach much of the world without costly and time-consuming refuelling.

The aircraft, known as Vespina, military registered ZZ336 was previously visually indistinguishable from the rest of the Operational Voyager Fleet. This external paint scheme will better reflect its VIP mission and contribution to ‘Global Britain’. The paintwork concludes a refurbishment stemming from the 2015 SDSR.

The project first created and agreed an outline design before being modified to account for commercial, legal, operational and design needs. This process was not only about the visual design, this was a complex engineering project requiring detailed drawings which were developed by Airbus. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group were then chosen to deliver the project at Cambridge on time and within the reported budget of $1.1 million (£900,000). This was completed as part of the aircraft’s D Check/Heavy Maintenance.

by David Oliver