PICTURES: UK's first future strategic tanker takes flight

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Airbus has performed the maiden flight of the first Trent 700-powered A330-200 being built to deliver the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft capability from 2011.

Performed at the company's Toulouse site on 4 June, the milestone will be followed by the aircraft's delivery to Airbus Military's Getafe plant near Madrid for "militarisation and tanker conversion" activities, says EADS UK-led AirTanker.

 
© Airbus

The AirTanker consortium also comprises refuelling equipment supplier Cobham, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, Thales UK and support specialist VT Group. The tanker service will be delivered using 14 A330s under a 27-year private finance initiative deal worth around £13 billion ($20.9 billion).

 
© Airbus

Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence is considering a further extension to its Project Javelin support programme for the RAF’s remaining Vickers VC10s.

The MoD says it is “seeking costed options to amend the existing availability solution to a range of extended out of service dates,” and identifies a possible need to run on the 15-aircraft fleet until 31 December 2013 or 30 September 2014. The RAF’s first VC10s (three pictured below at RAF Marham) entered use in 1966, and the service is now the only operator of the R-R Conway-engined type.

 
© Albanpix Ltd/Rex Features

Project Javelin is managed by aircraft design authority BAE Systems, which is expected to submit its response to the MoD’s service extension request by 30 June.