Leak found as £10.5bn tanker planes tested

Testing of the Ministry of Defence’s new state-of-the-art tanker planes has revealed a leak during air-to-air refuelling of Tornado jets.

The Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Voyager aircraft have been undergoing trials ahead of the first nine planes – from a £10.5 billion fleet of 14 – being due to enter service in the coming months.

The leak is being worked on and the overall programme is not expected to be delayed.

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The planes are also to be used as transports and medical flights and crews are training in these roles. Training on air-to-air refuelling is expected to begin once the fault is corrected.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “Voyager is due to enter service with the RAF in its transport and aeromedical roles in the coming months.”

The dual role air-to-air tanker and transport plane has a 60-metre wingspan and is nearly 60 metres long.

The RAF has bought 14 of the aircraft under a 27-year £10.5 billion private finance initiative contract with the AirTanker consortium.

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