In-flight refuelling trials involving the UK's Airbus A330-based Voyager and two Eurofighter Typhoons are due to start in October, only weeks before the new tanker/transport's entry into service with the Royal Air Force.

To be conducted from the Ministry of Defence's Boscombe Down flight test centre in Wiltshire, England, the Typhoon work will involve two instrumented production aircraft (IPA), to be flown by BAE Systems pilots.

 A330 Voyager RIAT - Crown Copyright
© Crown Copyright

The use of both two-seat IPA1 and single-seat IPA5 is necessary because of fuel system differences between the Eurofighter variants, an industry source said.

BAE flew IPA5 (below) at the Royal International Air Tattoo, staged at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on 16-17 July.

Typhoon - RIATofficial 
© RIATofficial

UK defence secretary Dr Liam Fox formally named the Voyager at Fairford on 15 July, with the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme's second of 14 A330s having been on static display at RIAT.

The platform was visiting the show between performing refuelling trials with a Panavia Tornado GR4 using its Cobham 905E under-wing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

The UK's first Voyager is currently at Airbus Military's Getafe site near Madrid, Spain, where it is being prepared for delivery to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on 31 October.

It will initially be used to support training for RAF and AirTanker pilots, before gradually assuming some of the responsibilities currently being met by the UK's Lockheed TriStar and Vickers VC10 tanker/transports. The last of these should be retired in 2013.