After 30 years of service the Tristar is now out of service with the RAF
The final sortie was on the 24th of March and 216 Squadron disbanded.
The Tristar fleet consisted of three sub types.
3x C.2 transport only, no tanking capabilities
4x KC.1 tankers with a mixed main deck and large cargo door, 133 seats and 8 pallet positions
2x K.1 as the KC.1 tankers but with no large cargo door on the main deck (passengers and baggage only) and thus unable to carry pallets
They were not new, converted by Marshall’s of Cambridge from aircraft obtained from PanAm (C2) and British Airways (KC.1 and K.1)
The VC10 went out of service in September 2013 and the tanking duties of both the VC10 and Tristar fleet are now being carried out by the seven aircraft currently in the Voyager fleet.
6 of the Voyagers are in RAF service with 10 and 101 Squadron and the final aircraft being used for personnel only flights. Of these 6, 2 are two point and 4 are 3 point capable.
As the Tristar went out of service Voyager only has full release to service for refuelling the Typhoon and Tornado and personnel flights.
Large aircraft like the C130J and E3-D Sentry use the centreline hose or Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) and on the same day that Tristar went of service, Release to Service for the FRU was granted.
The first refuelling from the FRU took place a few days later, a C130 Hercules shown below.
The ninth aircraft to be delivered will complete the core fleet and fitted with an enhanced defensive aids system (DAS) that will then be retrofitted to the existing aircraft. The remaining five aircraft will be the swing fleet, those that are supposed to subsidise the running costs by being used by others, negotiations, it is said, are still ongoing with regards to what form this will actually take.
It is also not clear whether the swing fleet will be fitted with the same DAS as the core fleet.
When you look at the numbers of aircraft, those with DAS, those that are capable of three point refuelling (i.e. large aircraft) and that one of the fleet is still flying on the civilian aircraft register it really is a sad state of affairs, no matter how genuinely more capable than either the VC10 or Tristar a Voyager is.
Read more about the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft below[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/07/the-pros-and-7-cons-of-an-raf-voyager/”]