By Craig Hoyle at RAF Fairford

The UK Royal Air Force used today’s RIAT show to mark significant milestones in the lives of two of its transport aircraft types, with both its Lockheed Martin C-130 and Vickers VC10 fleets having chalked up 40 years of operational service.

Lockheed and Marshall Aerospace staged a dinner at Jesus College, Cambridge on 14 July to mark the 40th anniversary of a relationship which has seen the companies support the RAF’s fleet of Hercules transports. The milestone was also celebrated at the show today during a ceremony beside an air force C-130K attended by guest of honour Prince Michael of Kent, while an RAF C-130J performed an impressive tactical demonstration.


A specially painted VC10 tanker-transport also conducted a fly past at the show today with a red livery on its tail marking 40 years of RAF service. Now flown by 101 Sqn from Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, the VC10 is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to operate, placing greater emphasis on the acquisition of a replacement capability in the form of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA).


The EADS-led AirTanker consortium is to provide a 27-year tanker-transport service to the RAF under a pending private finance initiative deal, with this expected to cover the delivery of a core fleet of nine modified Airbus A330-200s and five more to be held on short readiness and made available for third-party use. The new fleet will replace the RAF’s VC10s and its 216 Sqn-operated Lockheed TriStars.

Perhaps reflecting the tone of RIAT’s rapid global effect theme this year, the RAF’s fixed-wing air transport fleet was otherwise too busy to participate in the show, with no TriStar or Boeing C-17 aircraft in attendance so far due to high operational commitments supporting UK military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Source: Flight International