posted on Jun, 25 2012 @ 11:57 PM
The RAF is planning to retire the last nine VC-10 tankers by March of 2013, with the Lockheed Tristar (including four tankers) by the end of the 2013.
They are scheduled to be replaced by a fleet of 14 A330 Voyager tankers, under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) plan.
However, there are several problems that have cropped up with the A330 tanker. There are rumors that the fuel leak problem is still occurring when
RAF Typhoons are refueled. Interestingly, the leaks don't occur when American aircraft are refueled.
The current plan calls for a "core" group of nine aircraft, and a total of 14 in the fleet. There is currently one aircraft in service, and it is
only certified for transport activities. Conversion of the remaining aircraft have been removed from Cobham Aviation Services, and will be completed
by Airbus Military in Madrid to ensure on time delivery.
The Dew Line
These are worrying times for the UK Royal Air Force, with the service facing major upheavals to its air transport and air-to-air refuelling
inventories over the next 18 months.
By the end of this year, the last of the UK's Lockheed Martin C-130K Hercules will be retired from use, while the replacement Airbus Military A400M
won't start appearing on the ramp at RAF Brize Norton until during 2014. More hours on the hard-worked C-130J fleet will cover part of the shortfall,
along with the introduction by March 2013 of two ex-TNT Airways BAe 146 passenger/freighters now being modified for military operations in
Afghanistan. The service also recently took delivery of an eighth Boeing C-17.
But it is in the tanker sector that the biggest headache is emerging. The RAF's last nine Vickers VC10s (Crown Copyright image below) are to be
retired in March 2013, with its Lockheed TriStars (including four tankers) to follow by the end of the same year.
Fuel leak problem:
A330 fuel leaks
A £10billion fleet of refuelling planes for the RAF have been found to suffer leaks when they fill up British jets.
Tests have shown connecting pipes leak on the Voyagers when they try to resupply Tornado jets - although they work fine when used by American
It is feared the latest glitch to affect the aircraft, also used to evacuate battlefield casualties and transport troops, could delay their entry into